Summary and book reviews of The Time of The Uprooted by Elie Wiesel

The Time of The Uprooted

by Elie Wiesel

The Time of The Uprooted
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2005, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 320 pages

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Book Summary

A profoundly moving novel about the healing power of compassion. Aching, unsentimental, deeply affecting, and thought-provoking.

From Elie Wiesel, a profoundly moving novel about the healing power of compassion.

Gamaliel Friedman is only a child when his family flees Czechoslovakia in 1939 for the relative safety of Hungary. For him, it will be the beginning of a life of rootlessness, disguise, and longing. Five years later, in desperation, Gamaliel's parents entrust him to a young Christian cabaret singer named Ilonka. With his Jewish identity hidden, he survives the war, but in 1956, to escape the stranglehold of communism, he leaves Budapest after painfully parting with Ilonka.

He settles in Vienna, then Paris, and finally, after a failed marriage, in New York, where he works as a ghostwriter, living through the lives of others. Eventually, he falls in with a group of exiles: a Spanish Civil War veteran, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, a victim of Stalinism, a former Israeli intelligence agent, and a rabbi—a mystic whose belief in the potential for grace in everyday life powerfully counters Gamaliel's feelings of loss and dispossession. When Gamaliel is asked to help draw out an elderly, disfigured Hungarian woman who is barely able to communicate but who may be his beloved Ilonka, he begins to understand that a real life in the present is possible only if he will reconcile with his past.

Aching, unsentimental, deeply affecting, and thought-provoking, The Time of the Uprooted is the work of a master.

Excerpt
The Time of The Uprooted

I'm four years old, or maybe five. It's a Sabbath afternoon. Mother is lying down in the next room. I'd asked her to read to me from the book she had by her side, but she has one of her frequent headaches. So I ask my father to tell me a story, but just then there's a knock at the door. "Go see who it is," says my father, reluctantly glancing up from the journal he's keeping. A stranger is at the door.

"May I come in?" he asks. A big bearded man, broad across the shoulders, with sad eyes—there's something disturbing about him. His gaze seems heavy with secrets, and glows with a pale and holy fire.

"Who's there?" my father asks, and I reply, "I don't know."

"Call me a wanderer," the stranger says, "a wandering man who's worn-out and hungry."

"Who do you want to see?" I ask, and he says to me, "You....

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Some critics feel that Wiesel's themes of love , loss, faith, politics, survival and, of course, exile, are a little too defuse; but one cannot deny the impact of his body of work as a whole, which speaks for not only the lost generation but those left behind, to which The Time of the Uprooted is a worthy addition, illustrating the lasting emotional impact of the Holocaust.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Though the story ends on an optimistic note, this remains a bleak and unsettling novel, an exploration of the power and mystery of stories, as well as their ultimate failure to change the world.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

The novel comes to be a disturbing but lesson-filled meditation on identity and the resulting disturbance of the heart and mind when one never possesses a secure one.

Library Journal - Henry Carrigan

While Wiesel's later works have seldom possessed the force of his early ones (e.g., The Night Trilogy), his reflections here powerfully capture the ways that we deal with the past and the ways that it imbues our lives with ambivalent feelings about our identities.

Reader Reviews

Stephanie

My Opinion
This book was very well written, however at times it was very hard to follow. This book has so much information about Elie's life and everything that happened during his time at the concentration camps. He is a really good author and is probably one ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

After the war, he studied in Paris and later became a ...

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