Author: Elie Wiesel
Translator: Catherine Temerson
Narrator: Mark Bramhall
Run Time: 6 hrs 51 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio
It’s 1975, and Shaltiel Feigenberg—professional storyteller, writer and beloved husband—has been taken hostage: abducted from his home in Brooklyn, blindfolded and tied to a chair in a dark basement. His captors, an Arab and an Italian, don’t explain why the innocent Shaltiel has been chosen, just that his life will be bartered for the freedom of three Palestinian prisoners. As his days of waiting commence, Shaltiel resorts to what he does best, telling stories—to himself and to the men who hold his fate in their hands.
It has been years since I’d read/listened to anything by Elie Wiesel – I remember reading Night in school – but didn’t realize that it was the first book in a trilogy. I also knew that he had written other stuff, but for some reason never actually read any of it – I’m not sure why. So when a reading challenge task arose to read a book about a renaissance author (in this instance, defined as one who is know for their writing as well as something else), I decided to finally read something else by him. Hostage is his newest book and I found that I really enjoyed it.
It had the same writing style that I vaguely remember from Night, that just sucks you in. Since I was listening, I couldn’t see for sure, but the appearance was that there were no chapters to disrupt the flow of the story. Although, this lack of chapters occasionally made it hard for me to figure out where I could safely stop when I finished my commute (I even sat in the car for a few minutes waiting one day), but at the same time, it was also easy to pick the narration back up at the end of the day/the next morning.
When I read the description and saw stories – I was expecting made up stories with morals, kind of what you would expect from a storyteller – but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the “stories” were actually reflections on his life. I also thought that Elie did a good job of walking the line between preaching about the establishment of Israel as a recognized country and the plight of the Palestinians – he was even able to work real-life events into the book (the killing of the Israeli athletes at the Olympics etc).
Mark Bramhall is another new to me narrator (I seem to have been doing a good job on exploring the wonderful world of them this year) and i think that he was perfect for the voice. It was how I would imagine a guy being held hostage, in fear for his life would talk – not too powerful, but at the same time, not too timid. Since the only other 2 people to really talk in the book were the hostage takers (aka, the Italian and the Palestinian), he didn’t have to exhibit a wide range of voices. But I would definitely be interested in checking out some more of his narrations in the future.
This was a hard book for me to rate, because it was so thought-provoking about the role of nations and nation-building; but at the same time, the struggles of the individuals who aren’t always considered or remembered. But I’d give it 4 stars overall.