The Story of a Life

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Aug 19, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 208 pages
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In spare, haunting, almost hallucinogenic prose, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning novelist shares with us–for the first time–the story of his own extraordinary survival and rebirth.

Aharon Appelfeld’s childhood ended when he was seven years old. The Nazis occupied Czernowitz in 1941, 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 (his mother was killed in the early days of the occupation) 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. He observes the full range of personalities in the camps–exploitation exists side by side with compassion–until he manages to get on a ship bound for Palestine. Once there, Aharon attempts to build a new life while struggling to retain the barely remembered fragments of his old life (everyone urges him simply to forget what he had experienced), 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.


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User Review  - OccassionalRead - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

The story of a life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This memoir by Israeli novelist Appelfeld (The Conversion ) focuses on his experiences during World War II. As in his novels, many of which deal with the catastrophe facing European Jewry, Appelfeld ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
17
Section 3
26
Section 4
31
Section 5
39
Section 6
42
Section 7
47
Section 8
50
Section 17
98
Section 18
107
Section 19
118
Section 20
126
Section 21
128
Section 22
133
Section 23
142
Section 24
146

Section 9
62
Section 10
65
Section 11
69
Section 12
74
Section 13
79
Section 14
84
Section 15
89
Section 16
94
Section 25
156
Section 26
159
Section 27
163
Section 28
167
Section 29
172
Section 30
176
Section 31
183
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About the author (2009)

AHARON APPELFELD is the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Iron Tracks, Until the Dawn's Light (both winners of the National Jewish Book Award), The Story of a Life (winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger), and Badenheim 1939. Other honors he has received include the Giovanni Boccaccio Literary Prize, the Nelly Sachs Prize, the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, and the MLA Commonwealth Award. Blooms of Darkness won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2012 and was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013. Born in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine), in 1932, he died in Israel in 2018.

Bibliographic information