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Until the Dawn's Light: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805241795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805241792
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Appelfeld, Israel’s greatest living writer, retains his capacity for wonder. . . . [And] this capacity for wonder, for the openness to enchantment within the world, is a gift.”
—Leslie Epstein, Tablet
“Appelfeld’s new book possesses all the ferocious agony of his other works, perhaps even more so. "  
 —Elaine Margolin, The Jerusalem Post
“Throughout his impressive oeuvre, one senses that Appelfeld is not mining his imagination to concoct tragic stories—rather, he is simply retelling the story of his life as a child survivor of the Holocaust.”
—Shoshana Olidort, The Forward

“In Appelfeld’s characteristic manner—that is, with a deftness that allows single words to suggest volumes of emotional complication—he draws us into this young mother’s story. . . . Through one woman’s isolation, struggle and eventual release—cataclysmic though it turns out to be—we feel the losses of an entire nation, and the terrible costs of its triumphs.  [A] remarkable novel . . . masterly and finely wrought.”
—Julie Orringer, The New York Times Book Review

"Tragic heroine Blanca will remind readers of Hardy’s luckless Tess, for Blanca’s essential decency and self-sacrificing attempts to do right end, fatefully and inexorably, in suffering. . . . As she tries to outrun her past, Blanca faithfully records her own history and surveys the loss of faith among Austrian Jews; with this, the story of one woman’s misfortune takes on the magnitude of history. . . . Compelling.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Distinguished fiction by one of Israel’s most prominent novelists. . . . A beautiful and affecting novel, Tolstoyan in its compassion for humanity.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“An affecting tale [and a] graceful narrative.”
“A worthy addition to the oeuvre of an acknowledged master of the plight of Europe’s Jews before and during the Holocaust. Appelfeld makes every word count as he hauntingly depicts the tragedy of the human condition.”
—Library Journal

About the Author

Aharon Appelfeld is the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Badenheim 1939, Tzili, The Iron Tracks (winner of the National Jewish Book Award), and The Story of a Life (winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger). Other honors he has received include the Giovanni Boccaccio Literary Prize, the Nelly Sachs Prize, the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, and the MLA Commonwealth Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received honorary degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Yeshiva University. Born in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine), in 1932, he lives in Israel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Pollock on October 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my first novel by Aharon Appelfeld. I was transfixed by it, by its sensibility, its brilliance, its sheer humanity. In a small town called, ironically Heimland (homeland) in Austria around the turn of the 20th century, most of the Jews have converted to Christianity. In fact, the synagogue has been closed for lack of interest. An intellectually talented high school student, Blanca, who is Jewish, is attracted to a Christian peasant she is tutoring in math. Blanca converts to Christianity to marry him - and it turns out to be a nightmarish marriage, in which she is repeatedly beaten and treated as a maidservant. Her only comfort is her small son, Otto. Her scenes with 4 year old Otto are among the most moving in the book. Actually, the book is written in flashback form, as Blanca and Otto are fleeing Austria to the north. Where is the north? asks Otto. "Above," she answers truthfully, an early clue to the denouement. Blanca keeps writing her diary, the events that led to the present moment where she is seeking refuge. The author writes simply and truthfully. The translation is precise and exact, true to the spare style of the original Hebrew; the writing is beautiful. From the first page, from Blanca's protectiveness toward her 4 year old child, her determination to keep the truth from him without lying, you know Blanca, like her name, is pure. Her only hope is to save her son, Otto, from becoming like his thuggish father, who is (also symbolically) named Adolf. The discernment of the author in understanding how a dictator can be raised from a dictatorial, abusive father and a timid, abused but kind mother makes me think of Hitler's family background. This must be intentional on the author's part.

I have never read so compelling, and so very Jewish, a book. I am still emotionally reeling from its effect. I recommend this book to those who do not mind having their verities questioned and their premises challenged. It is a tragic masterpiece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leucippe on February 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a great fan of Appelfeld for the most part, but this new book is disappointing. The plot is too contrived, the actions less than believable, and the relationships ring false. Ostensibly, it follows a familiar trajectory of Appelfeld: the folly of assimilated (and even converted) Jews in Germany (or in Central Europe more generally) and their ultimate downfall. But please -- a brilliant talented girl ends up by marrying a Gentile drunken lout, who had been expelled from high school for academic failure, without any really convincing reason. Cowed into total submission (to the extent of having to abandon her hapless father), beaten constantly, except for the intervention of a kindly (converted) doctor, who rescues her and her child (both unborn and while an infant), she ends up as a thief, an axe murderer (why couldn't she just have left the brute while he was in his drunken stupor), and beyond that, in her flight across Central Europe, why in heavens name does she keep setting fires to churches? She doesn't seem to have descended into madness, so what's the point? Is it because she converted? Look for another work by Appelfeld to gauge his genius for story telling.
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