Elie Wiesel: How did "Night" become a bestseller after rejections from publishers?
This fall, Elie Wiesel’s “Night” was removed from the New York Times best-seller list, where it had spent an impressive 80 weeks after Oprah Winfrey picked it for her book club. The Times’s news survey department, which compiles the list, decided the Holocaust memoir wasn’t a new best seller but a classic like “Animal Farm” or “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year largely through course adoptions. Indeed, since it appeared in 1960, “Night” has sold an estimated 10 million copies — three million of them since Winfrey chose the book in January 2006 (and traveled with Wiesel to Auschwitz).
But “Night” had taken a long route to the best-seller list. In the late 1950s, long before the advent of Holocaust memoirs and Holocaust studies, Wiesel’s account of his time at Auschwitz and Buchenwald was turned down by more than 15 publishers before the small firm Hill & Wang finally accepted it. How “Night” became an evergreen is more than a publishing phenomenon. It is also a case study in how a book helped created a genre, how a writer became an icon and how the Holocaust was absorbed into the American experience.
Raised in an Orthodox family in Sighet, Transylvania, Wiesel was liberated from Buchenwald at age 16. In unsentimental detail, “Night” recounts daily life in the camps — the never-ending hunger, the sadistic doctors who pulled gold teeth, the Kapos who beat fellow Jews. On his first day in the camps, Wiesel was separated forever from his mother and sister. At Auschwitz, he watched his father slowly succumb to dysentery before the SS beat him to within an inch of his life. Wiesel writes honestly about his guilty relief at his father’s death. In the camps, the formerly observant boy underwent a profound crisis of faith; “Night” was one of the first books to raise the question: where was God at Auschwitz?...
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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008
Mr. Wiesel's book Night is saturated with fraud. If you google "Elie Wiesel fraud" you find 37,000 plus references to the issue. A more appropriate question with regard to this book is:
"Why has the American professorial class, as a class, encouraged students to read Night for decades without honestly addressing the fraud in the book, and in the man?"