Elie Wiesel and Catherine Temerson (translator)
Knopf. Aug 21 2012, $25.95
In 1975 in Brooklyn, Luigi the radical Italian revolutionary and Ahmed the Palestinian anti-Zionist abduct Shaltiel the Orthodox Jew. Luigi and Ahmed demand the release of three Palestinian prisoners in exchange for letting Shaltiel free. They hold him captive for eighty hours while the world media depict this previously nonentity in dramatically different ways.
The two kidnappers treat Shaltiel differently as Luigi has nothing against Jews while Ahmed loathes all Jews. Shaltiel is confused why him as he offers no value to anyone as a simple storyteller who enjoys telling tales. Still while in captivity and facing torture especially from the angry Palestinian Shaltiel begins to tell the story of his life. He starts with his family at Auschwitz where his grandmother died while a Nazi officer hid him. He thinks of his first meeting with his future wife Blanca and other family matters over the years as time is running out.
This is a taut thriller starring three fascinating but diverse individuals. Shaltiel tells his story while defending Israel’s position towards the Palestinians as security for the Jewish State; Ahmed makes a case for a free Palestine; and Luigi takes a world position; none of them attempt to truly understand their two “companions.”. Although the ending is contrived, readers will enjoy Elie Wiesel’s latest work as Shaltiel’s past is incredible and his present dilemma interesting with its psychological insight into captivity as everyone is a prisoner.