At 16 he was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, where his family perished. After the war, he studied at the Sorbonne. In the 1950s he was a correspondent for Israeli, American, and French newspapers. After living in France and Israel, he settled in the United States in 1956 and became a citizen in 1963.
Wiesel's novels, plays, retellings of biblical stories, and collections of Hasidic tales have focused on the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. The autobiographical novel Night (1958) recounts the horrors he witnessed as a death camp inmate; it and two subsequent novels about concentration camp survivors, Dawn (1960) and The Accident (1961), comprise the Night Trilogy. Later works include A Jew Today (1978) and The Fifth Son (1985). For his efforts on behalf of other oppressed peoples, he won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.
See his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea (1995) and his Memoir in Two Voices (with F. Mitterrand, 1996); studies by R. M. Brown (1984) and M. Berenbaum (1987).