The Iron Tracks
By Aharon Appelfeld
(Schocken, Paperback, 9780805210996, 208pp.)
Publication Date: February 16, 1999
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How does one live after surviving injustice? What satisfaction comes from revenge? Can the past ever be left behind?
Masterfully composed and imbued with extraordinary feeling and understanding, The Iron Tracks is a riveting tale of survival and revenge by the writer whom Irving Howe called "one of the best novelists alive today."
Ever since he was released from a concentration camp forty years earlier, Erwin Siegelbaum has been obsessively riding the trains of postwar Austria. His days are filled with drink, his nights with brief love affairs and the torments of his nightmares. What keeps him sane is his mission to collect the menorahs, kiddush cups, and holy books that have survived their vanished owners. And the hope that one day he will find the Nazi officer who murdered his parents--and have the strength to kill him.
A haunting exploration of one survivor's complex, wrenching, inner world, The Iron Tracks is distinguished by the depth of insight and the distinctively stark, elegant style that have won Aharon Appelfeld recognition as one of the world's great writers.
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.
"Appelfeld is an astonishingly subtle and sensitive writer whose work refines itself and grows purer over the years. Almost every sentence in The Iron Tracks sparkles with gemlike refraction.......... Some believe this novel about a Holocaust survivor who travels the trains of south-central Europe in search of a Nazi tormentor is one of the finest books ever written about the pain and memory of war." ---Chicago Tribune (a Fiction and Nonfiction Favorite for 1998)
"This tale of reparation and retaliation is art at its highest." --Washington Post
"Aharon Appelfeld's controlled fiction compresses large themes into small spaces. . . . He is a worthy successor to Kafka." --Jonathan Rosen, New York Times Book Review