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The Story of a Life by Aharon Appelfeld

The Story of a Life (2004)

by Aharon Appelfeld

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Applefield's book is a strange mix: part autobiography/memoir and partly a book about language, art, culture, and the struggles of a writer to find his authentic voice. The first part, chronicling the author's war years as a child who escaped from a camp and survived by hiding in the woods and passing himself of as a non-Jewish orphan, appealed to me most. However, Applefields subsequent musings about his difficult adaptation to Palestine: socially, linguistically, vocationally, and spiritually are engaging as well. Ultimately, you applaud the fact that in the end the author overcame such steep obstacles, matured as a person and a writer, and was able to finally become the WRITER that he always believed himself to be. ( )
2 vote OccassionalRead | Mar 7, 2012 |
  moncay | Oct 21, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805211268, Paperback)

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 Aharon’s 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 war’s 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 life’s 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When World War II broke out, Aharon Appelfeld was seven years old, the child of an assimilated, middle-class Jewish family in Czernowitz. This is his account of the years which followed - recalling the long journey south at the end of the war, to Italy and then to Israel, where he has to remake a life from nothing.… (more)

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