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The Time of the Uprooted by Elie Wiesel

Sorrow Strikes Again

The author that brought the egocentric Generation X to its feet, if only for the short time it took to read the 128 loaded pages of Night, has graced the American landscape with another of his thought-provoking tales of misery. Elie Wiesel's new novel, The Time of the Uprooted tells of despair rooted in solitude and, unlike some of his past works, Wiesel strays from the loaded narrative.

While true to the historical roots of the other works in the Wiesel collection, the themes addressed in Uprooted take a slight turn from the pure misery doused into Wiesel's other works. Still concentrated on a Holocaust survivor, Wiesel follows Gamaliel, a ghostwriter in America as he searches for the most important living relic of his past to deliver him from the loneliness that haunts his familial and emotional relationships.

This novel explores an often unlooked relationship between man and his appreciation for the unusual kindness of other virtuous men. Ilonka, the cabaret singer that provides refuge for Gamaliel as a young boy, plays the virtuoso in this tale as the child's life inevitably unfolds. With each succeeding page, the reader comes to learn the immense force Ilonka's presence has on Gamaliel. As the reader gathers facts maligning the pristine vision of Ilonka as a motherly figure, her human nature and selfless acts help to legitimize the pious actions of men despite their flaws. This is a theme further explored as Wiesel's protagonist struggles with his great literary work, which addresses questions of sainthood, church and religion.

Though only a little over three hundred pages long, Uprooted reads like it's so much more, upwards of five hundred pages or so. Characteristic of a Wiesel novel, Uprooted is dense in its descriptions and filled with loaded sentences -- each put together with the same apparent artistic intention. Amazingly, Wiesel's has retained the ability to stay true to his style and subject matter, while reinventing the appeal of each of his succeeding novels. Wiesel has been able to successfully cultivate an immense range of perspectives on the common event that stands as the unifying force of each of his novels and subsequent collection of works.

Despite the praise and true literary quality, this book is quite a task. For readers expecting tales from cabaret's heyday I sympathize, but be forewarned this novel is far too heavy for August. I do not promote reading The Time of the Uprooted in San Francisco's summer months. With its intense emotional perils and understated upside, this book is best saved for the rainy season.

The Time of the Uprooted by Elie Wiesel
August 9, 2005
Knopf
Hardcover/$25.00
ISBN: 1400041724
320 pages