Books: Laish, Aharon Appelfeld

Jerusalem, 1900

Appelfeld was totally unknown to be until last May. An Israeli friend of nearly forty years (is it that long?) came for a fortnight's visit and during our talks, arguments, banters, cooking, eating and traveling she mentioned his name and how much she appreciated his writing.

I am still guilty of lack of familiarity. Although I found three of his novels at Websters, a second hand bookshop in State College, PA, my reading habits have changed so much they have gone unread.

I trust that I may enjoy them, or at least respond to the author's words just as I am fascinated by his newly translated book Laish, a story of pilgrimage from Eastern Europe to Jerusalem.

Stark, austere, perhaps Appelfeld uses the act of living, often wordless, to demonstrate the depth of emotion involved in unsettling change, relentless searches and as Charlie Chaplain said, "Nothing is permanent in this wicked world - not even our troubles."

And it appears that it was indeed troubles that followed the travelers even on the brink of their arrival.

I shall pluck his earlier novels off the shelves, and perforce read them.

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