Books

The Oath
By Elie Wiesel
Schocken Books/$15

Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel takes readers on a gut-wrenching, emotional ride in this reprint of one of his earlier fictional novels, The Oath. In this moving and at times overwhelming tale of Jewish struggle and pride, Wiesel eloquently depicts the inner turmoil of the lone survivor of a fictional Eastern European town, Kolvillag. The survivor, Azriel, must decide whether to keep a long-held oath to the dead or give a young man reason to live.

The disappearance of a local Christian boy leads to the distrust and eventual carnage of the Jewish residents of Kolvillag. Azriel's oath — never to speak of the town's tragedy — was pledged to the people of Kolvillag as he escaped the ill-fated calamity that was occurring within its borders. The remarkable self-sacrifice and love of a particular town resident, Moshe, has given Azriel the strength to live with his horrifying secret. Fifty years later, Azriel must decide if passing on this secret will give a young man similar strength, and thereby prevent him from taking his own life.

The Oath is filled with brilliant characters that award honor and admiration to the mystique and perseverance of the Judaic tradition. The book also contains some rather obscure references, and it would certainly be helpful to possess some knowledge of Judaism. Nevertheless, the narrative alone will keep you turning the pages.

Owing to the real terror Wiesel faced during the Holocaust, this book is not for the faint of heart. In his unique way, Wiesel weaves a gripping tale that creates a sense of empathy juxtaposed with shock.

—Nina Banez

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