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The Story of a Life Paperback – August 8, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211269
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Heartstopping.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Appelfeld … is a writer of genuine distinction, who [has] transformed his own experience into literature of exceptional clarity and power.”
The Washington Post

About the Author

Aharon Appelfeld received the Prix Médicis Étranger for The Story of a Life. The author of more than twenty acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, he lives in Jerusalem.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lost John on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after reading Appelfeld's latest novel. Blooms of Darkness clearly has an autobiographical element and I wanted to know more about the Second World War experience of the Jews of what is now Ukraine's Chernivtsi Oblast - amongst whom Appelfeld and his family were numbered. When, in July 1941, Chernivtsi was invaded by Axis forces, the area, northern Bukovina, was a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, to which it had been annexed one year earlier. Before that, Bukovina had been a part of Romania, but only since 1917. Until the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bukovina had belonged to Austria. That history was very different from most of the rest of today's Ukraine, and it made an important difference to Holocaust survival rates among Bukovina's Jews. Appelfeld, nine years old at the time of the Axis invasion, was one of the survivors, as was his father.

The important difference for Chernivtsi was that it was invaded by Romania, not Germany, and that it remained under Romanian control until re-taken by the Red Army in August 1944. After initially forming a ghetto in Chernivtsi, Romania began deporting Jews eastwards towards Ukraine's River Buh, the border of Romania's newly-created Transnistria. Some were murdered (including Appelfeld's mother), and many died in transit or in labor camps, but the ultimate intention was deportation beyond the Urals, not the "100 per cent solution" implemented in much of Ukraine by Germany's SS.

Appelfeld was marched into Ukraine's heartland and held for a short time in a work camp, but he soon escaped and pulled-off the remarkable feat of evading capture until the Red Army re-took Ukraine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sheila H. Mclaren on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This little book makes me feel as though I've struck gold.

Aharon Appelfeld's mother was murdered by Nazis at their home in Czernowitz, in the Bukovina province of Romania. Today Czernowitz is in the Ukraine. From the outset Mr Appelfeld states that "The pages before you are segments of contemplation and memory", and that "Memory and imagination sometimes dwell together." He does not claim to write chronologically; nor does he see himself as a writer about the Holocaust. If a reader is obsessed with chronological accuracy, she or he will at first find this story confusing and frustrating, just as this reader did. Aharon was born in 1932, but because the tale has so little to do with exact times, it is difficult to work out whether Aharon was 7 or 9 when his mother was killed. She was killed by the Germans, but they did not invade Romania until 1941 when he would have been nine years old. If one can dismiss this question as being irrelevant, the story begins to unfold and to flow, and one can go with it.

After his mother's death, Aharon and his father found themselves on what was virtually a death march through the Ukraine, with few survivors reaching the concentration camp which was their goal. Once in the camp, they became separated from each other, and the child managed to escape. He spent the next few years wandering in the forests and fields of Eastern Europe, often terror-stricken, learning how to shelter and feed himself in the forest, listening for danger by lying with his ear to the earth: The sound of people always meant danger. He had a number of adventures, about which he has written in more detail in other books, always as fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on June 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Aharon Appelfeld's The Story of a Life should be read because it is a fine piece of fictionalized memoir. Appelfeld utter fascination with silence find expression in this book: his long years alone in the woods fleeing the Nazis, his even longer years trying to find a voice in a new language in Israel (Hebrew) which would eventually become the language of his literature, is extremely compelling and even harrowing. Appelfeld tells an intelligent, heart rending story from start to finish.

This book is also a kind of key to much of Appelfeld's fiction. Many of the motifs, the fixations, the themes that are explored, especially in his early years, are here in an unmediated format. This book is essential for Appelfeld readers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Applefeld is one of the humblest and honest writers I have read, his recollections of his past help one truly have a belief in the power of man as an individual whether it is good or evil.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aviva Dankner on August 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Appelfeld , a truly great writer somehow missed the point of the most catostrophic event of the 20th century, that is the Holocost. He never gives the reader a picture of the horrors, he the author ,Applefeld endured. There is no continuation to the story of his life, he hovers above, giving us bits and pieces, never joining them together. Perhaps the book was better in Hebrew, it was a great dissapointment.
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