I first read Night, by Elie Wiesel, in the mid-80s. And it transformed my life. Those familiar with the book recognize that Wiesel's life changed dramatically--and for the worse, even though he was already living as a teen in a Nazi concentration camp--with one sudden, uncontrollable thought. He seems to have spent much of his adult years trying to overcome the guilt and anxiety created by that single moment. Night is a tremendously powerful and thought-provoking book, which helped me gain an even deeper appreciation for the human experience.
Oprah has hijacked Night.
For several years I've taught a class in college where Night is used to illustrate existential dilemma and angst. Each semester I have to explain who Wiesel is, and what Night is about. Every semester I enjoy giving this lecture. I love seeing the students' interests piqued, and most times someone reads the book before the end of the term and tells me how deeply it influenced her, too.
This week when I brought up Night, a student said: "You mean the book from Oprah's book club?" Damn it, Oprah didn't discover this book. It's been printed and reprinted and written in several languages for decades. The fact that Oprah just discovered it (and, by the way, needed a safe follow-up to the Frey book debacle) doesn't mean it hasn't existed and had impact on countless others.
Oprah is a human Wal-Mart, that crushes the life out of anything in her path. While an argument can be made that more people are now aware of Night because of her, it's my belief that this awareness is mostly superficial and pretentious.
...but I could be wrong.