cover image The Sonderberg Case

The Sonderberg Case

Elie Wiesel, trans. from the French by Catherine Temerson, Knopf, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-307-27220-1

Wiesel (Night) returns to the moral questions that characterize the post-WWII generation in this slim novel that is both overstuffed with plot and skimpy on motive. Yedidyah Wasserman, a well-regarded theater critic in New York City, is split between his parents' generation of Holocaust survivors and that of his sons, young American men who have chosen to move to Israel. Yedidyah imagines himself in the comfortable middle until he is called upon to cover the murder trial of a German expatriate. He is enthusiastic, but the trial is an unsettling opportunity for him to search the past and his family history, and also inexplicably angers his wife, Alika, a stage actress. The novel is told mostly via Yedidyah's personal reflections and each component of the story is so divorced from the next—there are no scenes, for instance, that show Yedidyah with more than one family member at a time—that it's difficult to assemble a larger view of his life. The ambitious scope of the story, spanning generations, is compelling, but limited by the novel's length. (Aug.)