Thursday, 26 November 2009

Night - A Book Review

Here is my book review for AW Blog Chain. Previous link in the chain was DavidZahir - Next link is RavenCorinnCarluk - Rest of the participants Vein Glory - Shethinkstoomuch - Lady Cat - Rosemerry - Night - Elie Wiesel I don't make a habit of reading non-fiction books about wars. Occassionally I come across something but usually I tend to stay away from depressing topics. Though there are some stories which one simply cannot ignore, no matter how horrific or how uncomfortable because they tell us something important. Night is one such book. A tiny little thing at less than 100 pages, it is a memoire of a man called Elie Wiesel, who is one of the few survivors of Auschwitz concentration camp from WWII. Wiesel came from a small town where people thought the Red Army will soon defeat the Nazis and they would be safe. When they warned by one of their own people that Nazis will come, they called him a madman. It was near the end of the war, and Wiesel, a teenage boy was studying religion and living his ordinary life. Then Nazis came and everything changed. The whole town - they were mostly jewish - was emptied and people were taken to concentration camps. Almost immediately, Elie and his father were seperated from the women of their family, and Elie never saw his mother and sisters again. The book tells the story of Elie Wiesel and his father's life in the concentration camp. It took Wiesel 10 years before he broke his silence and told this story. It is a horrific story which shows us how cruel humans can be, and reminds us that though there are no concentration camps today, that nature of man is not non-existence. I love this book, because besides the suffering there is another message. Will to survive. Elie had it, and so did many others. It tells us that we as people are far stronger than we imagine ourselves to be. It shows us people's worst side, but also their spirit of endurance. It is also a journey of his faith. Before the camp, Wiesel was devoted to God. Things he went through and saw in the concentration camp made him question that devotion. As a writer, this book is beautifully written. It is very simple, but profound. One cannot help but feel the words and share a little bit of Wiesel's sufferings though I don't think any of us can possibly imagine what he truly went through. One of the main reasons why I love this book is because even though these concentration camps stories are hard to revisit and often we want to ignore the horrific past, it is good to remember that there are people who were strong enough to survive it. And that by knowing their stories, listening to how low human nature fell, we might learn something and improve as a race, be a little kinder and humane towards our own kind. Here is one of my most favourite passage from the book which gives us a glimpse of Elie's trials and the simplistic beauty of his words which I think makes the message sink far deeper, and has more emotional impact. "Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my Faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."


  1. I'm impressed. Honestly, my mood in this holiday season is not one to read a book on this subject but it'll go on my list of books for next year.

  2. With so many of our aging veterans passing on, I think memoirs such as this one are important to keep the memory of what happened alive in the hopes that it will never happen again.

    Thank you for sharing this book with us - I'll be looking to find a copy.

  3. I read I'd guess only non-fiction. Sir Hilary's "View from the Summit" and "Undaunted Courage" about Lewis and Clark, by Stephen Ambroise, as an example. In my stories (fiction) I draw from things I learn. From Vikings to Cowboys to the guys who fly in space. I too am not much of a fan of depressing topics. However, as a young boy I read "The Diary of Anne Frank". I was born in '53...yeah, do the math, (but by no means am I an 'old fart') so that was pretty much recent history to me. I've always loved knowing what was. And as I get older I want to know more. Weird huh? Your excerpt is haunting and the confusion of his present is felt. Non-fiction well written puts you there and not just a 'here's what happened' history lesson.

  4. "Night" has been on my to-read list for years. I read a portion of it in my middle school German class.
    I adore non-fiction, particularly about wars and those affected by them. Books are an ideal way to keep from forgetting the past.

    Your review pushed it higher on the list--a must read for 2010.

  5. Zahir,
    I totally understand it's not a book people are keen to pick up easily. I have had it for over 5 years, and I have only just read it.

    You are so right. I think it's important to remember our own history, so we have less of a chance of repeating same mistakes.

    I watched the recent BBC show made from Anne Frank's Diary and loved it, so I have got the book as well. That is definitely my 2010 read. I am making more effort to read non-fiction because I have found that I do enjoy it when I find good ones. It's just that picking up fiction is so tempting and so easy because I know there are thousnads of fiction books I want to read. Whereas I find good non-fiction difficult to find.

    It took me over 5 years of having the book before I read it, but believe me, you won't regret it once you do read it. And at about 91 pages it is pretty quick read.

  6. Very eloquent, and I think that's a very strong quote to end it on.

  7. I think I read this in High School. But I'm not sure. I'm going to see if I can find it at the library. I've read Diary of Anne Frank already and I like to hear stories about WWII

  8. I think it is important to know these stories, as hard as they are to read.

  9. Raven,

    Thanks. I love that quote.

    You may as well have read it in school. It was part of my sister's school too.

    I totally agree.