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The Literary Giant Who Gave Vivid Voice to the Holocaust

Aharon Appelfeld (Photo: wikicommons/Jwh)

Israel lost a literary heavyweight this past week, as did the world of Holocaust literature. The Times of Israel's Jessica Steinberg reports on the death at age 85 of Aharon Appelfeld, who gave voice to the Holocaust, won many awards for his work, and published a book just three months ago:

Aharon Appelfeld, one of Israel’s most prolific and talented writers, who brought forth a rich library of Holocaust fiction, memoirs and essays in 47 books, died Thursday. He was 85.

His most recent book, the romance “Perplexity,” was published just three months ago, in September 2017.

A winner of multiple literary awards, Appelfeld was the recipient of the 1983 Israel Prize for literature and the 1989 National Jewish Book Award for fiction, and in 1997 was appointed a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Appelfeld wrote his fiction in Hebrew, a language he didn’t learn until he was 13 and had arrived in pre-state Israel, following harrowing escapes and painful experiences in Ukraine, Russia and Europe during and after the Holocaust.

Much of Appelfeld’s fiction was based on his own life, transforming memory into fiction, as he told The Independent in a 2012 interview.

“I’m not writing memoirs — I’m using pieces of my own experience,” he said...

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