In yesterday’s New York Times crossword puzzle there’s a clue reading ”Night novelist.” The answer is “Wiesel.”
The puzzle thus enters the fray in a long debate about how to characterize Elie Wiesel’s book about Auschwitz. Is it a memoir? A novel? Something else?
As I wrote in 2006:
Wiesel himself was forced to clear the air in an interview with The New York Times. Night “is not a novel at all,” Wiesel said. “All the people I describe were with me there. I object angrily if someone mentions it as a novel.”
And yet, in the past, Wiesel hasn’t helped matters in this regard. In 1972, Hill & Wang packaged Night with two other books, Dawn and The Accident, which Wiesel clearly identified as novels. The set’s cover refers to the works as “Three Tales by Elie Wiesel.” In a later edition of the same volume, Wiesel refers to all three books as “narratives,” although he calls Night a “testimony,” and the other two “commentaries.”
Now it’s true that Wiesel has written novels. But in the case of the puzzle clue, the word “novelist” after the book title suggests the latter is a novel.
In the August 19, 2007 Times paperback best seller list, Night is listed under “nonfiction.”
Does the editor think a correction is in order, or does he stand by the clue? I sent a note to the Times crossword blog to find out.