Apple is a Jewish comic writer, and in July 2000 he met Hans in New York. Hans, the son of a Jewish father and Gentile mother, was born in Vienna, became a shepherd, and developed a love for singing Yiddish songs. The following year Apple joined Hans in "schlepping" through various Alpine locations, tape recorder and sheep in hand. His account of that sojourn is whimsical, often hilarious, and often deeply disturbing. For Apple was not merely interested in an eccentric shepherd or in local folk culture. He was fully cognizant of the long tradition of Austrian anti-Semitism and of the role of Austrians in the Holocaust. So, while recounting delightful episodes with Hans and his sheep, as well as interesting observations on the lost world of Yiddish culture, Apple suggests that anti-Semitism maintains a tenacious hold in many small towns and villages in rural Austria. A funny book making serious points. Jay Freeman
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Advance praise for Schlepping Through the Alps
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“This marvelously alert, one-of-a-kind book fascinates by virtue of its eccentric honesty, humor, warmth, and intelligence. Sam Apple’s writing style sparkles, and the two brilliantly achieved, richly sympathetic characterizations at the heart of the book–the singing shepherd and the author himself–make for a dazzlingly satisfying read. I absolutely loved it.”
“At its best, Apple’s narrative voice is as grave as W.G. Sebald’s while as self-deprecating as a poetic version of Woody Allen’s. Europe in the wake of the Holocaust is risky material. I know of no other American of Apple’s generation writing non-fiction who has attempted as subtle and oblique an approach as this.”
–HONOR MOORE, author of The White Blackbird
“In this wonderful book, Sam Apple has written a brilliantly comic and very dark pastorale about shepherds, Nazis and Jews, modern-day Austria, love and fidelity, and he has done it with such subtlety–with bright colors at the center and darkness around all the edges–that the effect is quite singular. I have never read a book quite like this, and I loved it; it’s that simple.”
–CHARLES BAXTER, author of Saul and Patsy: A Novel and Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
From the Hardcover edition.