Regular price: $20.97
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $20.97
Stewart O'Nan is an accomplished writer. Why on earth would he want to rewrite Elie Wiesel and claim it as his own? Primarily resembling Wiesel's Day, O'Nan gets inside the soul of Brand, an illegal immigrant into Palestine in the aftermath of WWII, the sole survivor of his family, suffering survivor's remorse. In order to stay in Palestine, he has to join a terrorist cell of the Irgun, participating in increasingly dangerous missions.
Mixed into this Day-like story are Brand's reminiscences of concentration camp, which echoes Wiesel's Night. These memories, doled out in bread-crumb-size doses, never add up to even a slice of Brand's life. His cover in Jerusalem is as a taxi driver who ferries tourists around -- the number of times he mentions taking fares to see the view from the Mount of Olives adds up to more words than what he tells us about his holocaust experience. It's as exasperating as it is frustrating.
Now that's how I felt, being so close to the material, as the son of Holocaust survivors, born in Israel. Most everyone with greater personal distance will not have a clue about the politics of Palestine after the war, before Israeli independence. Another flabbergasting, frustrating choice -- Brand is as confused about it as the reader is, so why not have him learn about it and thus explain it to the reader (having padded this already very short novel with far too many repetitive details about driving around Jerusalem).
It pains me to slam a novel that is so close to my family's experience, that I really wanted to be a door that could open this period of time for others. But it is a waste of time. My parents' stories -- even their post-war tales as refugees trying to get to Palestine, directly related to this book -- are more interesting than this (and they were regular people, not terrorists). Do yourself a favor and read Wiesel instead.