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Aharon Appelfeld (1932–2018)

Author of Badenheim 1939

82+ Works 3,131 Members 78 Reviews 11 Favorited

About the Author

Aharon Appelfeld was born in a town near Czernowitz, Romania on February 16, 1932. When he was 8 years old, he and his father endured a forced march to a labor camp in Ukraine. He escaped the camp and spent the next three years as a shepherd working for various peasants and always concealing his show more Jewish identity. He then joined the Soviet Army as a cook's helper. After World War II, he spent months in a refugee camp in Italy before going to Palestine in 1946. He worked on a kibbutz, fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and studied philosophy at Hebrew University. The Holocaust was the main subject of his books. His first novel, The Skin and the Gown, was published in 1971. His other works include Badenheim 1939, The Age of Wonders, To the Land of the Cattails, The Healer, The Immortal Bartfuss, For Every Sin, and Writing and the Holocaust. He received the Israel Prize for literature, The Prime Minister's Prize for Creative Writing, and two Anne Frank Literary Prizes. He taught Hebrew literature for many years at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Beersheba. He died on January 4, 2018 at the age of 85. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Aharon Appelfeld

Badenheim 1939 (1978) 464 copies
The Story of a Life (1999) 236 copies
Blooms of Darkness (2006) 193 copies
Tzili: The Story of a Life (1983) 179 copies
The Age of Wonders (1774) 172 copies
The Iron Tracks (1991) 159 copies
Katerina (1989) 145 copies
The Retreat (1984) 134 copies
To the Land of the Cattails (1986) 118 copies
The Immortal Bartfuss (1988) 117 copies
Adam and Thomas (2013) 109 copies
Suddenly, Love (2014) 108 copies
The Conversion (1991) 95 copies
For Every Sin (1989) 92 copies
The Healer (1990) 85 copies
Unto the Soul (1993) 75 copies
All Whom I Have Loved (1999) 71 copies
Until the Dawn's Light (1995) 67 copies
Laish (2009) 47 copies
To the Edge of Sorrow (2019) 44 copies
Six Israeli Novellas (1991) 37 copies
Volto ao Anoitecer (2017) 20 copies
Paesaggio con bambina (2009) 15 copies
Meine Eltern (1905) 15 copies
Poland, a Green Land (2023) 15 copies
Elternland (2005) 10 copies
Giorni luminosi (2014) 10 copies
Verwondering (2019) 8 copies
Long Summer Nights (2017) 8 copies
Un'intera vita (2010) 8 copies
La Stupeur (2017) 5 copies
מים אדירים (2011) 5 copies
Les partisans (2015) 5 copies
Il partigiano Edmond (2017) 4 copies
Die Eismine (1997) 4 copies
Les eaux tumultueuses (2013) 4 copies
L'héritage nu (2006) 3 copies
Expedicao ao Inverno (2011) 3 copies
רצפת אש 2 copies
Macot Ha'or 2 copies
עד חוד הצער (2012) 2 copies
מסילת ברזל (1991) 2 copies
כתר הברזל. (2016) 2 copies
הפסגה (2019) 1 copy
תימהון (2017) 1 copy
L'immortale Bartfuss (2021) 1 copy
Fragmentos de uma vida (2005) 1 copy
Ljubav odjednom (2008) 1 copy
Životna priča (2007) 1 copy
Ruhun Kuytusunda (2014) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998) — Contributor — 127 copies
The Jewish Writer (1998) — Contributor — 52 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Appelfeld, Aharon
Legal name
אפלפלד, אהרן
Other names
אפלפלד אהרון
Appelfeld, Aron
Аппельфельд, Аарон
Appelfeld, Ervin
Date of death
Czernowitz, Romania (now part of Ukraine)
Place of death
Petah Tikva, Israel
Places of residence
Jerusalem, Israel
Beersheva, Israel
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Holocaust survivor
Hebrew literature professor
short story writer
Ben Gurion University
Awards and honors
Israel Prize (1983)
Bialik Prize (1979)
Man Booker International Prize Finalist (2013)
Brenner Prize (1975)
Short biography
Aharon Appelfeld, né Ervin Appelfeld, was born to a Jewish family in Cernăuți, Bukovina, then Romania (present-day Chernivtsi, Ukraine). In 1941, when he was eight years old, Nazi troops captured the town after a year of Soviet annexation, and his mother and grandmother were murdered. He and his father were deported to a forced labor camp in Ukraine. Appelfeld escaped and spent the next three years roaming the forests, occasionally working for shepherds and peasants and always concealing his Jewish identity. In 1944, he joined the Soviet Army as a cook's helper in field kitchens. After World War II, he spent months in a refugee camp in Italy before making his way alone, at age 14, to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1946. He worked on a kibbutz, fought in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, and studied with Max Brod, Martin Buber, and Gershom Scholem at Hebrew University. He was finally reunited with his father in 1960. Appelfeld became a writer and the Holocaust in Europe was the main subject of his more than 40 books. He was one of the foremost Hebrew language authors despite the fact that he did not learn the language until he was a teenager. His mother tongue was German, and he was also proficient in Yiddish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian, English, and Italian. His debut novel, The Skin and the Gown, was published in 1971. Among his other works were Badenheim 1939 (1979), The Age of Wonders (1978), Until the Dawn's Light (1995), and several collections of short stories. His work received international critical and popular acclaim, and he was awarded the Israel Prize for literature and the Bialik Prize for literature among many other honors. His autobiography, The Story of a Life: A Memoir, won the Prix Médicis in France. He taught Hebrew literature for many years at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.



A tender but strong novel about honoring family, memories, horrific lost and regret.
Frightening to picture Ernst, now in his 70's and ill, being a willing participant in hate and violence in his youth... against his own people.

And young Irena, peasant-like and intuitive is the opposite; humble, loving, and deeply, religiously respectful of her parents and their home. Ernst remembers spending lots of time with his grandparents in the Carpathian Mountains; they farmed, led sparing lives and followed Jewish law. Ernst recalls with love and awe the richness and beauty of their simple and worthy lives.

Ernst needs Irena to care for him and she learns from him.

A beautiful read!
… (more)
Bookish59 | 3 other reviews | Dec 11, 2023 |
After reading his first few books, I grew tired of Appelfeld’s intentionally clear and precise language couple with ultimately fantastic and opaque stories. They are rich with metaphor and never quite directly about the one subject that united them all: the Holocaust. Many of his books purposely have no resolution and eventually this drove me away despite the easy, straightforward writing and the complete accessibility of his work. This later work is far more realistically grounded, a “conventional” story that I found more suited to my tastes and, unlike his other works, almost “enjoyable,” were the tone, the theme, and the writing not so dark. Recommended.… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | 4 other reviews | Aug 25, 2023 |
The book deals with a rag-tag group of Israelis fighting in WW2. It wasn’t until Grandma Tsirl shows up that I found the book compelling. This prophet/visionary is delightful. I loved her line “Why does God show me visions that I don’t know to convey to others?” Another spiritual character is Salo, “the angel of Raphael, the healer, lives within him”. The sequence where Rabbi’s were interrogated and accused of corrupting students was shocking. But as the book progresses it becomes repetitive and the narrator never gets fully fleshed out so that you care about him.… (more)
GordonPrescottWiener | 1 other review | Aug 24, 2023 |
A Tel Aviv shopkeeper visits his parents’ Polish birthplace in an attempt to come to terms with their complex legacy—and is completely unprepared for what he finds there.
HandelmanLibraryTINR | 1 other review | Jul 13, 2023 |



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