Holocaust writing

This is my review of Night by Elie Wiesel. Or not. It seems wrong somehow to review this book. How can you give a rating to something as terrible as the Holocaust?

Night is a memoir of Weisel and his father’s experiences in Nazi camps, one of which was the infamous Auschwitz. It’s a slim but powerful book- under a hundred pages, packed with terror and emotion. Wiesel was a spiritual teenager when the war began, and interestingly was interested in Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah (I thought that was a 90s craze!) When his family was evacuated to the Nazi camps, he was separated from his mother and sisters, but managed to stick with his father for several months, through manual labour, starvation and ‘selections’.

The memories are disconnected at times, but the most horrifying incidents are described in excruciating detail. You get to watch as the spiritual, idealistic youth loses his faith and becomes cynical. His father dies towards the end of the war, but Weisel survives and is reunited with his mother and one of his sisters. He went on to win a Nobel peace prize for his activism.

Not too long ago, I reviewed Maus, another memoir of life in the concentration camps. The two books are very, very different, and it’s not just because Maus is a graphic novel. Night was written several years after World War II ended (Weisel was initially unwilling to write about his experiences), and focuses on feelings and impressions, as opposed to the factual account presented in Maus.

Read this book because it presents a historic event in a way you could never imagine it.

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