Judges
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Judges

By (author) Elie Wiesel

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From Elie Wiesel, a gripping novel of guilt, innocence, and the perilousness of judging both. A plane en route from New York to Tel Aviv is forced down by bad weather. A nearby house provides refuge for five of its passengers: Claudia, who has left her husband and found new love; Razziel, a religious teacher who was once a political prisoner; Yoav, a terminally ill Israeli commando; George, an archivist who is hiding a Holocaust secret that could bring down a certain politician; and Bruce, a would-be priest turned philanderer. Their host—an enigmatic and disquieting man who calls himself simply the Judge—begins to interrogate them, forcing them to face the truth and meaning of their lives. Soon he announces that one of them—the least worthy—will die. The Judges is a powerful novel that reflects the philosophical, religious, and moral questions that are at the heart of Elie Wiesel’s work.

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  • Hardback | 209 pages
  • 150.9 x 217.9 x 22.9mm | 403.7g
  • 01 Sep 2002
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • 0375409092
  • 9780375409097

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Review text

From the prolific Nobelist, a novel rather artificially constructed-but for the worthy purpose of looking inside to find what meaning life can hold for any of us. An airliner en route to Israel is forced down at a small airport on the blizzard-swept east coast, where the "survivors" are picked up by locals and given shelter until as the plane can take off again. Five of them are so unlucky as to be escorted home by a very strange man indeed, who puts them-imprisons them-in a sealed room, announces himself a "judge," and declares his intent to play "games" with what's most precious to them, "the power of their imagination." As the "games" grow increasingly sinister-the judge at first insists only that each reveal something personal, but before the long night is over he'll demand that one be chosen as an assassination victim-the travelers, increasingly frightened, become also increasingly introspective, so that we learn more and more about each of their lives. There is Claudia, a theater producer and director; Bruce Schwarz, an aging roue; Yoav, an Israeli soldier with a secret deadly disease; George Kirsten, a scholarly archivist; and, most central, Razziel Friedman, head of a Talmudic school in Brooklyn. As the life of each is revealed, so is the reason each has for continuing to live: a love affair, a historically important paper to deliver, or, as in Razziel's case, an appointment with a mysterious figure who is to restore to him the memory of his life before age 18, lost in the ruinous trauma of his having been a political prisoner. There will be moments of memory, kindness, breakdown, pensiveness, and terror before an ending that (engineered by the judge's hunchback "servant") will seem convincing perhaps to few. But no matter. Wiesel, by then, will have entered the hearts, rewardingly, both of his characters and of his readers. Human, unpretentious, compelling explorations of what we are, and why. (Kirkus Reviews)

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