CHICAGO – In her first book club pick since allegations that some parts of her last selection were fabricated, Oprah Winfrey chose Elie Wiesel's "Night," a novel so personal that the author calls it a memoir.
Winfrey announced the selection of Wiesel's autobiographical novel about the Holocaust on her show Monday. Wiesel, 77, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for a lifetime of writing and speaking against hatred, racism and genocide.
She referred to the King Day holiday, saying, "Like Dr. King, I have a dream of my own, too, that the powerful message of this little book would be engraved on every human heart and will never be forgotten again. That you who read this book will feel as I do that these 120 pages ... should be required reading for all humanity."
"Night" is Wiesel's account of his family's placement in the Auschwitz death camp and is the first of more than 40 books, essays and plays he has written. The book is marketed on some online bookstores as a novel, but Wiesel's foundation labels it a memoir.
Winfrey's last book club pick, the memoir of addiction "A Million Little Pieces," has drawn criticism over allegations that author James Frey had fabricated some parts, including a three-month prison stint that apparently never happened.
Winfrey reaffirmed her support last week of Frey's book when she phoned in to "Larry King Live" at the end of an hour-long interview with Frey. Winfrey did not mention Frey's book on Monday's show. The book's publisher, Doubleday, has said that Frey was writing a brief author's note for future hardcover and paperback editions.
Winfrey also said Monday she plans to travel with Wiesel to Auschwitz next month, and her show will have a high school essay contest on Wiesel's book. Fifty winners will be flown to Chicago, where her show is based, for a taping with the author, Winfrey said.
In a 2002 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Wiesel recalled that "Night," written in the 1950s and originally in French, attracted little notice at first. "The English translation came out in 1960, and the first printing was 3,000 copies," he said. "And it took three years to sell them. Now, I get 100 letters a month from children about the book. And there are many, many million copies in print."
In one passage, he sums up his feelings upon arrival in Auschwitz:
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. ... Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."