Synopses & Reviews
When Aharon Appelfeld was seven years old the Nazis occupied Czernowitz, his hometown. They penned the Jews into a ghetto and eventually sent whoever had not been shot or starved to death on a forced march across the Ukraine to a labor camp. As men, women, and children fall away around them, Aharon and his father miraculously survive, and Aharon, even more miraculously, escapes from the camp shortly after he arrives there.
The next few years of Aharons life are both harrowing and heartrending: he hides, alone, in the Ukrainian forests from peasants who are only too happy to turn Jewish children over to the Nazis; he has the presence of mind to pass himself off as an orphaned gentile when he emerges from the forest to seek work; and, at wars end, he joins the stream of refugees as they cross Europe on their way to displaced persons camps that have been set up for the survivors. Aharon eventually makes his way to Palestine; once there, he attempts to build a new life while struggling to retain the barely remembered fragments of his old life, and he takes his first, tentative steps as a writer. As he begins to receive national attention, Aharon realizes his lifes calling: to bear witness to the unfathomable. In this unforgettable work of memory, Aharon Appelfeld offers personal glimpses into the experiences that resonate throughout his fiction.
Aharon Appelfeld's childhood ended when he was seven years old. The Nazis invaded his hometown in 1939, penned the Jews into a ghetto, and, a few months later, sent whoever had not been shot or starved to death on a forced march across the Ukraine to a labor camp. As men, women, and children fall away around them, Aharon and his father miraculously survive and, even more miraculously, Aharon escapes from the camp shortly after he arrives there. His story of the next two decades of his life is heartrending: hiding, alone, in the Ukrainian forests; passing as an orphaned gentile; navigating the complex politics and personalities of several displaced persons' camps; arriving in 1946 in what was then Palestine and attempting to build a new life while struggling to retain the barely remembered fragments of his old life; taking his first, tentative steps toward establishing himself in his life's work as a chronicler of the unfathomable. Told in luminous vignettes--memories painfully pulled from the deepest recesses of his being--The Story of a Life is powerfully moving, unsentimental, and starkly illuminating. An extraordinary work of memoir.
About the Author
Aharon Appelfeld received the Prix Médicis Étranger for The Story of a Life. The author of more than twenty acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, he lives in Jerusalem.