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... Aharon Appelfeld lives a few miles west of Jerusalem in a maze-like conglomeration of attractive stone dwellings directly next to an ‘absorption centre’, where immigrants are temporarily housed, schooled and prepared for life in their new society. The arduous journey that landed Appelfeld on the beaches of Tel Aviv in 1946, at the age of 14, seems to have fostered an unappeasable fascination with all uprooted souls, and at the local grocery where he and the absorption centre residents do their shopping, he will often initiate an impromptu conversation with an Ethiopian, or a Russian, or a Rumanian Jew still dressed for the climate of a country to which he or she will never return ...

Appelfeld 1990

Christopher Ricks, 8 February 1990

... The upright fiction of Aharon Appelfeld arises from the level facts of his anguished and brave young life. Like the novels themselves, a note on their author is laconic, lapidary and on oath:Aharon Appelfeld was born in 1932 in Czernovitz, Bukovina (now part of the USSR ...

Charmed Lives

Patrick Parrinder, 23 April 1987

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story 
by Dan Vittorio Segre.
Peter Halban, 273 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 1 870015 00 2
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To the Land of the Reeds 
by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey Green.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £9.95, February 1987, 0 297 78972 4
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Enchantment 
by Daphne Merkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 288 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 241 12113 2
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Ernesto 
by Umberto Saba, translated by Mark Thompson.
Carcanet, 166 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 85635 559 3
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... we may rejoice over one who survived and who has celebrated his luck in such captivating fashion. Aharon Appelfeld’s biography, as summarised on the dust-jacket of his new novel, indicates a tale of survival in circumstances far more terrible than any that Segre was called upon to suffer. Born in 1932 near the Soviet-Rumanian border, he now lives in ...

The crematorium is a zoo

Joshua Cohen: H.G. Adler, 3 March 2016

The Wall 
by H.G. Adler, translated by Peter Filkins.
Modern Library, 672 pp., £12.99, September 2015, 978 0 8129 8315 9
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... not true; others are – although they never occurred.’ Along with Primo Levi, Tadeusz Borowski, Aharon Appelfeld, Piotr Rawicz, Jakov Lind and Jerzy Kosinski, he elided events and fashioned composite characters to attain a sense of realism – but that doesn’t mean that Auschwitz was a hoax, or that Israel is illegitimate. Writers who survived ...

Travelling in the Classic Style

Thomas Laqueur: Primo Levi, 5 September 2002

Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics 
by Robert Gordon.
Oxford, 316 pp., £45, October 2001, 0 19 815963 3
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Primo Levi 
by Ian Thomson.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 09 178531 6
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography 
by Carole Angier.
Viking, 898 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88333 6
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... Benevolence and Betrayal.) In other words, Levi did not lose his world as Wiesel, Améry, Celan, Aharon Appelfeld and so many others lost theirs. His was the voice neither of the Diaspora nor of national exile but of a deeply rooted and successfully assimilated Italian Jew. There is more to the emotional world of Primo Levi than his relationship with ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... Philip Roth, a writer who has friends bearing the same names as friends of the actual Philip Roth (Aharon Appelfeld, for instance) and has created a character called Nathan Zuckerman. In one section this Philip Roth’s wife interrogates him about infidelity on the basis of a notebook she has found. She’s half-convinced that he’s simply making things ...

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