William1's Reviews > Day

Day by Elie Wiesel
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's review
Aug 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 20-ce, fiction, translation, romania
Read in January, 2011

This short novel is powerful, at times harrowing. The writing is compressed, the tone conversational. One would not think the language capable of handling so many large themes--God, the Holocaust, Hell, Suffering, Love--that the author freights it with. Yet it is the very lightness of the language that buoys the subject matter. There is even a touch of humor, albeit of a very black gallows variety. The writing is deft. It possesses a wonderful contiguity, a narrative cohesion as the incidents unfold. It is Wiesel's second novel and a translation from the French. The narrator, a Holocaust survivor, is in wrenching pain, both physical and emotional. He cannot let go of the past with its many dead. At any other time he would probably be a morose and dull fellow, but when he steps off a curb in Times Square and is struck by a cab his painful emotional life is brought to the fore. The accident is a nasty one. This febrile, near-death experience reanimates his sense of personal loss. This is essentially a philosophical novel, but so nicely undergirded with action that the reader is never adrift in abstractions. Eliezer, the narrator, cannot let go of his anger and despair. He was raised with a strong belief in God which his experience in the camps has annihilated. Kathleen, raised in affluence in the US, is his lover who, like Eliezer, but for different reasons, cannot wrap her mind around "the event." Both are sufferers of what psychologists would call survivor guilt. Don't let this crude partial summary I'm providing here put you off. The writing is nuanced, beautiful, and to use a phrase Anthony Burgess used in praising another book: "almost unbearably moving." Highly recommended.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Conner Nice review. This is a book of Wiesel's that too often gets overlooked. More people should read his full trilogy, as there's a lot to be found past Night.

William1 I agree. I still have to read Dawn. Can you recommend any of his other novels? Nice hearing from you.

Conner You should definitely read Dawn. It's been a while since I've read it so I can't go into many details, but I remember it hitting me just as hard as the other two books in the trilogy, even though it's fictional. Unfortunately I haven't read any of his other works so I can't recommend more to you, but I'll look forward to seeing what you think of Dawn.

William1 I'll certainly move Dawn to the top of my list.

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