Thursday, January 19, 2006

NIGHT by Elie Wiesel - Tossed into James "Stir" Frey?

Will NIGHT face an ultra-harsh light of scrutiny?

Who plans to read Oprah's latest selection, Night by Elie Wiesel? I do. I've actually had it in mind since seeing her speak about it so passionately, and interview the author, on her 20th Anniversary DVD special.

But - it being a memoir by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and all - I wonder if it'll be held up to a magnified and unfair scrutiny in the wake of the James Frey "memoirs only need to be loosely based on my version of the 'essential truth' and not on actual events" fiasco. What do you think?

My Take?
I hope it doesn't go too far, but somehow, I think it's unavoidable at this point. In fact, it's already begun. Way to go Frey-boy. Here's an excerpt from the NY Times:

Oprah Winfrey's choice of "Night" as the next selection for her television book club on Monday immediately sent the book to the top of national best-seller lists. But it also revived questions about "Night," one of the first autobiographical accounts of he death camps and a book that changed modern American understanding of the holocaust. At times over the last 45 years it has been classified as a novel on some high-school reading lists, in some libraries and in bookstores. Some scholars who have studied Holocaust memoirs have also raised questions about how much of the book can be verified.

Mr. Wiesel and his literary agent, Georges Borchardt, said in interviews this week that the book was factual and that they had never portrayed it as a novel. They said the differences in the new edition are not significant enough to justify the kind of questions raised about Ms. Winfrey's last book club selection, the memoir "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey.


  1. Night is one of the finest books ever written. It should be required reading for all schoolchildren.

    Not only is Wiesel an amazing writer, but he's an amazing man.

    I read an interview with Wiesel recently about this whole Frey thing and I thought what he said was really important. I'll rummage around and see if I can find it.

  2. Read this years ago in school, in fact I think it was required reading for us. Great story, and very haunting. Glad Oprah chose it. I think it would be inappropriate for comparisons to be drawn between A MILLION LITTLE LIES and NIGHT. There is no comparison. It's the epitome of the difference between fact and...make believe.

  3. I read Night one or two years ago. I tend to avoid Holocaust literature (I'm Jewish, and I was raised with this stuff; after a while, it gets overwhelming), but I liked Wiesel's writing too much to avoid it any longer. Night is wholly believable, IMO, and it's about as dark a memoir as you'll ever read. The whole trilogy is worthwhile, by the way.


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