Schocken Books Inc, Paperback, 9780805210989, 240pp.
Publication Date: December 14, 1999
Our story opens in an Austrian city, two generations before the Holocaust, where almost all of the Jews have converted to Christianity. Today the church bells are pealing for Karl, an ambitious young civil servant whose conversion will clear his path to a coveted high government post. Karl's future looks bright, but with his promotion comes a political crisis that turns his conversion into a baptism by fire, unexpectedly reuniting Karl with his past and forcing him to take a stand he could never have imagined.
Aharon Appelfeld has been exploring the existential themes of the Holocaust for more than forty years. He was eight when he witnessed the murder of his mother by the Nazis. After escaping from a concentration camp, he wandered alone in the forests for two years. When the war ended he joined the Soviet Army as a kitchen boy, eventually emigrating to Palestine in 1946. The author of eleven internationally acclaimed novels, including Badenheim 1939, The Age of Wonders, The Retreat, and Unto the Soul, he lives in Jerusalem, Israel.
"A work of subtle power, at once a historical novel and a moral parable. [Appelfeld] creates an atmosphere charged with ethical significance, painting characters whose feelings are intricate and idiosyncratic, yet resonate sadly and sweetly within us all." --The Boston Globe