“Night” is a written testimony of the Nazi German camps composed by Elie Wiesel in 1960. It’s a short read of hundred pages that will leave you thinking about the values of life for months and years after finishing the book. It’s hard to call it a memoir or a deposition of the Second World War victim, but there’s no doubt that it’s a work of art.
There are times when people stop being people. When people are worse than predators. Such times often happen when wars break out and they constitute the worst periods for any country and society. During such times one can lose everything just overnight: home, parents, faith in God and loyalty to one’s soul.
The book is about a Jewish boy who lost everything in his young years. Most importantly, he lost himself being a walking membrane with endless hole inside. It’s about power, cruelty, arrogance, constant fear, weakness, impuissance… Imagine witnessing your father die and being too scared to do something. Imagine wishing for your closest people to perish because living by their side is worse.
The fragmented narration of the book corresponds to the broken senses it presents. All the values and social pillars are inverted, every dear thing is destroyed, there’s nothing sacred. The Gods remain silent in the atmosphere of total dishonesty, fear, emptiness, and despair.
When taking on a book about Holocaust, you expect a lot of difficult moments, tears and terror. But the “Night” writing doesn’t try to provoke feelings of recoil and consternation. It narrates silently and calmly the events that happened in real life. There are no tears because the only feeling it leave is emptiness, like the soul and empathy have been ripped out of your chest and thrown away.
If you don’t feel overwhelmed with the disgust of humanity after finishing the “Night”, then move on to the other parts of the trilogy followed by “Dawn” and “Day”. It’s a fascinating yet sad transition from total darkness into bittersweet light.