Described by the New York Times Book Review as “one of the great writers of our generation”, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, and awarded the Grand Cross in the French Legion of Honour, Elie Wiesel has written 57 books, and been translated into 30 languages.
Now as part of our Independent Voices series, dedicated to publishing writers who provide alternative viewpoints and challenge conventional wisdom, Souvenir Press is publishing The Testament – a book that has been unavailable in the UK for two decades, although it is as relevant today as on its original publication.
Born in Romania in 1928 to Jewish parents, Elie Wiesel was deported as a child to Auschwitz where his mother and sister died. Separated from his mother and sister, Wiesel and his father were sent on to a different camp, Buchenwald, where his father died only weeks before the camp was liberated by the US Army in April 1945.
After the Second World War, Wiesel moved to France and learned French, the language he uses most frequently for writing. But for ten years after the war he refused to write about or discuss his experience of the war. It was only at the urging of François Mauriac, the 1952 Nobel Laureate in Literature, that Wiesel started to put his experiences down on paper. Now aged 85 Wiesel lives in the United States of America with his wife, Marion. His writing is considered among the most important in Holocaust literature.
The Testament, translated by Marion Wiesel, is an encompassing history of the twentieth-century. Paltiel Kossover, a “mute poet” and witness to history, travels from his Jewish childhood in pre-revolutionary Russia to Paris and Berlin in the 1930s as the Nazis take power, and then to Spain during its Civil War. He embraces Communism and returns to Russia, only to be imprisoned. In his cell he writes his ‘testament’ – a long letter to the son he will never see again, an account of his life as a man “who lived a Communist and died a Jew”.
In The Testament Wiesel pays tribute to the many writers killed by Stalin, and in Paltiel he has created one of the great Everyman characters of contemporary literature.
Souvenir Press revives Elie Wiesel’s lost classic as part of its Independent Voices series. An interesting additional feature of the new Souvenir Press edition is the cover which was obtained from The State Museum of The History of GULAG, depicting an artist’s rendering of a gulag. Available in paperback and as an e-book, The Testament is available to a new generation of readers.
To view the full range of titles in our acclaimed Independent Voices series, click here.
“An unusually rich, disturbing and satisfying book” – The Times
“A witness for truth and justice” – The Nobel Committee
“Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man” – New York Review of Books