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The Sonderberg Case
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2010
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From the Nobel laureate and author of the masterly Night, a deeply felt, beautifully written novel of morality, guilt, and innocence.
Despite personal success, Yedidyah—a theater critic in New York City, husband to a stage actress, father to two sons—finds himself increasingly drawn to the past. As he reflects on his life and the decisions he’s made, he longingly reminisces about the relationships he once had with the men in his family (his father, his uncle, his grandfather) and the questions that remain unanswered. It’s a feeling that is further complicated when Yedidyah is assigned to cover the murder trial of a German expatriate named Werner Sonderberg. Sonderberg returned alone from a walk in the Adirondacks with an elderly uncle, whose lifeless body was soon retrieved from the woods. His plea is enigmatic: “Guilty . . . and not guilty.”
These words strike a chord in Yedidyah, plunging him into feelings that bring him harrowingly close to madness. As Sonderberg’s trial moves along a path of dizzying yet revelatory twists and turns, Yedidyah begins to understand his own family’s hidden past and finally liberates himself from the shadow it has cast over his life.
With his signature elegance and thoughtfulness, Elie Wiesel has given us an enthralling psychological mystery, both vividly dramatic and profoundly emotional.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/24/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307593825
ASIN:
B003F3PL5I

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Elie Wiesel. (2010). The Sonderberg Case. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Elie Wiesel. 2010. The Sonderberg Case. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Elie Wiesel, The Sonderberg Case. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Elie Wiesel. The Sonderberg Case. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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      • bioText: Elie Wiesel is the author of more than fifty books, both fiction and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor’s Grand-Croix, an honorary knighthood of the British Empire, and, in 1986, the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University.
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publishDate
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title
The Sonderberg Case
fullDescription
From the Nobel laureate and author of the masterly Night, a deeply felt, beautifully written novel of morality, guilt, and innocence.
Despite personal success, Yedidyah—a theater critic in New York City, husband to a stage actress, father to two sons—finds himself increasingly drawn to the past. As he reflects on his life and the decisions he’s made, he longingly reminisces about the relationships he once had with the men in his family (his father, his uncle, his grandfather) and the questions that remain unanswered. It’s a feeling that is further complicated when Yedidyah is assigned to cover the murder trial of a German expatriate named Werner Sonderberg. Sonderberg returned alone from a walk in the Adirondacks with an elderly uncle, whose lifeless body was soon retrieved from the woods. His plea is enigmatic: “Guilty . . . and not guilty.”
These words strike a chord in Yedidyah, plunging him into feelings that bring him harrowingly close to madness. As Sonderberg’s trial moves along a path of dizzying yet revelatory twists and turns, Yedidyah begins to understand his own family’s hidden past and finally liberates himself from the shadow it has cast over his life.
With his signature elegance and thoughtfulness, Elie Wiesel has given us an enthralling psychological mystery, both vividly dramatic and profoundly emotional.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: -Francis RTM Boyle, Time Out New York
      • content:

        "Elie Wiesel continues to be a voice of modern humanity's conscience with his latest work, a beautifully layered book . . . [In The Sonderberg Case] the Nobel Laureate exploits his greatest strength: words beaming through the window that peers into the author's soul. For a brief moment of holy catharsis, we become Wiesel."

      • premium: False
      • source: -Booklist
      • content: "From the first clear, simple sentence, melancholy hangs over the story, always permeating the author's voice . . . The theme of the Jew today confronting his own family history remains powerful."
      • premium: False
      • source: -Library Journal
      • content: "Wiesel's latest novel is full of questions . . . Is Sonderberg guilty? The answer is satisfying if not surprising, a good description of this musing, almost fablelike work."
      • premium: False
      • source: -Publishers Weekly

      • content: "Ambitious . . . Compelling."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 14, 2010
        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.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 15, 2010
        The latest from the Nobel Peace Prize–winning author of Night(1960) asks big questions about good and evil, art andreality, yet ultimately finds its narrator concluding,"Suddenly, I don't understand anything anymore. Why life? Why death?"

        The Jewish protagonist is a New York newspaper drama critic who finds himself in the unlikely position of covering a murder trial. (Both of the reporters on the court beat for the paper are conveniently unavailable.)The case is both simple and unfathomable.A 24-year-old philosophy student from Germany receives an unexpected visitor, an older German who introduces himself as the student's uncle.They decide to go away for a week together in the Adirondacks.The student returns without the older man, whose dead body is later found, leading to the murder charge.Though some had heard the two argue, there is no motive, no weapon, no deeper understanding of their relationship. Was the death an act of murder, suicide or an accident? The defendant is no help, proclaiming himself (as a philosophy student would),"not guilty but not innocent." The critic's obsession with the case (which doesn't really commence until a third of the way through the novel) upsets his theater-loving wife, but it leads to all sorts of grand pronouncements about the courtroom as theater as well as larger questions such as,"Was life a string of roles?" Long after the end of the trial, a meeting between the critic and the defendant resolves some mysteries, yet by that time other, related mysteries have arisen concerning the critic's own identity.For no apparent reason, the first-person narrative occasionally shifts into the third person, as the protagonist ponders"the vague feeling that his life or the meaning of life had escaped him," and asks,"Since I'm not the man I thought I knew, who am I?"

        A slim novel that's heavy on philosophy.

        (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2010
        "Was life a string of roles?" "How can fear be incarnated?" "Where does God fit in?" Wiesel's latest novel is full of questions, the central one being whether German expatriate Werner Sonderberg murdered his uncle during a walk in the Adirondacks. Sonderberg returned home alone, and his uncle was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. When Sonderberg is charged with murder, he pleads that he is "guilty]and not guilty," a puzzler that in a thriller might suggest some supernatural twist but in a novel by the distinguished author of "Night" and numerous other works on the Holocaust, fiction and nonfiction, will inevitably lead us deep into moral quandary. Sonderberg's plea is pondered especially by Yedidyah, an actor turned theater critic who is asked to cover the trialnot a bad choice, finally, given the inherent drama and Yedidyah's position as a child of survivors. As he contemplates the trial, Yedidyah reviews his own life, which opens up to deliver its own rude shock. VERDICT Is Sonderberg guilty? The answer is satisfying if not surprising, a good description of this musing, almost fablelike work, which reminds us that we don't have to play the roles we've been assigned. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 3/1/10.]Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"

        Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 1, 2010
        An old ex-Nazi falls to his death from a mountain in the Adirondacks. Accident? Suicide? Murder? His nephew, Werner Sonderberg, a young German student at New York University, pleads guilty and innocent. Is it possible to be both? Court reporter Yedidyah is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and he is haunted by the big questions. Could I be the one in the dock? Could I possibly be the murderer of an old Nazi? And where was God in all this? From the first clear, simple sentence, melancholy hangs over the story, always permeating the authors voice. Along the way, though, there are some awkward notes. Despite the built-in suspense of a courtroom drama, the ruminations from the omniscient narrator and from a Jewish reporter get a little ponderous at times. In addition, a visit to Jerusalem seems uncomfortably welded onto the main story, adding only a superficial view of the contemporary Palestinian conflict. But the theme of the Jew today confronting his own family history remains powerful. There is no easy relativism. The climax, including the historical facts about the Holocaust and its gas chambers, destroys any nuances about Nazi guilt and innocence. And yet, the issues remain, urgent and contemporary: Is the Nazis German grandson also a victim of the Nazi curse? And always the universal question: What would I have done? Personal and collective, it is all about guilt. Sure to be in demand for book groups.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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From the Nobel laureate and author of the masterly Night, a deeply felt, beautifully written novel of morality, guilt, and innocence.
Despite personal success, Yedidyah—a theater critic in New York City, husband to a stage actress, father to two sons—finds himself increasingly drawn to the past. As he reflects on his life and the decisions he’s made, he longingly reminisces about the relationships he once had with the men in his family (his father, his uncle, his grandfather) and the questions that remain unanswered. It’s a feeling that is further complicated when Yedidyah is assigned to cover the murder trial of a German expatriate named Werner Sonderberg. Sonderberg returned alone from a walk in the Adirondacks with an elderly uncle, whose lifeless body was soon retrieved from the woods. His plea is enigmatic: “Guilty . . . and not guilty.”
These words strike a chord in Yedidyah, plunging him into feelings that bring him...
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