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This interview is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

In Conversation with Aharon Appelfeld Gabriel Josipovici

Aharon Appelfeld was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, into a rich, assimilated, German-speaking family. When he was eight he and his family were rounded up by the Nazis, his mother was killed and he and his father were sent to a concentration camp. He escaped and spent the next three years wandering in the Ukrainian forests before joining the Russian army and eventually making his way to Israel. He now lives just outside Jerusalem with his Argentinian wife and three children, and teaches Hebrew literature at the University of the Negev.

He has published nine novels, six volumes of stories and a book of essays in Hebrew, and in recent years has come to be recognized as one of Israel's leading writers, with the award of the country's top literary honour, the Israel Prize, and translation in most of the major languages. Four of his books have appeared in English, but only two in this country
, Badenheim 1939 (Dent) and The Retreat (Quartet Books)

To my mind Appelfeld is not just an important Hebrew writer but one of the handful of novelists writing today whose work will survive as long as books are read

In spite of his appalling early suffering and growing fame, he remains a gentle, warm and approachable man, as far removed as it's possible to be from the stereotype both of the broken and embittered victim and of the haughty grand master. Because he is so much at ease with ...


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