You know, God is everywhere. He is in the human heart. He is in the plants. He is in the animals. Everywhere. You have to be very careful when you speak to human beings because the man who is standing in front of you has something divine in himself. Trees, they have something divine in them. Animals of course. And even objects, they have something of the divine.
—Aharon Appelfeld, The Art of Fiction No. 224
Aharon Appelfeld, one of Israel’s foremost contemporary writers, died today at the age of eighty-five.
Appelfeld was the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and memoir, many of which derived their inspiration and force from his childhood in war-torn Europe. He was born in Romania, where he was apprehended by Nazi-allied forces at the age of nine. His mother and grandmother were shot, and he and his father were eventually sent to the Transnistria concentration camps. Appelfeld described his internment there as a kind of transformation: “I became a small animal. It was the wish for life, the wish to survive.” In 1942, he managed to escape; he spent two years in hiding. At one point, he lived in the forest among a band of thieves, and, later, in the home of a Ukrainian prostitute. He joined the Soviet army, spent time in a displaced persons camp in Italy, and finally immigrated to Palestine in 1946, at age fifteen. Nearly a decade later, after spotting his father’s name on a list of survivors, they were reunited in Israel. Read More