The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Aharon Appelfeld

Schocken, 9780805243192, 304pp.

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (1/7/2020)
Compact Disc (1/31/2017)
MP3 CD (1/31/2017)
Compact Disc (1/31/2017)

List Price: 26.00*
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From the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author (“One of the greatest writers of the age” –The Guardian): a young Holocaust survivor takes his first steps toward creating a new life in the newly established state of Israel. 

Erwin doesn’t remember much about his journey across Europe when the war finally ended because he spent most of it asleep, carried by other survivors as they emerged from their hiding places or were liberated from the camps and made their way to the shores of Naples, where they filled refugee camps and wondered what was to become of them. As he struggles to stay awake, Erwin becomes part of a group of boys being rigorously trained both physically and mentally by an emissary from Palestine for life in their new home. The fog of sleep slowly begins to lift, and when Erwin and his fellow clandestine immigrants are released by British authorities from the detention camp in Atlit, he and his comrades are assigned to a kibbutz, where they learn how to tend to the land and speak their new language. But a part of Erwin desperately clings to the past–to memories of his parents, to his mother tongue, to the Ukrainian city where he was born–and he knows that despite what he is being told, who he was is just as important as who he is now becoming. 

When he is wounded in an engagement with snipers, Erwin must spend long months recovering from multiple surgeries and trying to regain the use of his legs. As he exercises his body, he exercises his mind as well, copying passages from the Bible in his newly acquired Hebrew and working up the courage to create his own texts in this language both old and new, hoping to succeed as a writer where his beloved, tormented father had failed. With the support of his friends and of other survivors, and with the encouragement of his mother (who visits him in his dreams), Erwin takes his first tentative steps with his crutches–and with his pen. 

Once again, Aharon Appelfeld mines heartrending personal experience to create dazzling, masterly fiction with a universal resonance.

About the Author

AHARON APPELFELD is the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Iron Tracks, Until the Dawn's Light (both winners of the National Jewish Book Award), The Story of a Life (winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger), and Badenheim 1939. 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. Blooms of Darkness won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2012 and was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013. Born in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine), in 1932, he died in Israel in 2018.

Praise For The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping: A Novel

“As its title suggests, there is a dazed, dreamlike quality to the prose of this bildungsroman, in which a masterly English translation by Jeffrey M. Green manages to retain the direct, concrete quality of the original Hebrew as well as its austere poetry. This is particularly valuable in a novel whose subject is, in part, language and how it forms us, what it lets us see and what it obscures.”
—Geraldine Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

"Powerful and hallucinatory. . . . Haunted by loss, illuminated by hope, and richly textured with tradition, Appelfeld's narrative probes questions of history and identity, vocation and meaning in language that's deceptively simple--as luminous and lingering as poetry."
—Christian Century

"By constantly recasting the stories he has created over a long career, Appelfeld creates a literary way of bringing his pre-Holocaust past into his Israeli present. There is no longer a need to return to Bukovina in Ukraine. There is a creative way of bringing Bukovina to the cafe in Beit Ticho in Jerusalem, where the venerable and venerated Appelfeld comes to sit and write."
Hadassah magazine

“Gently tragic, intensely moving, and filled with metaphor. . . . Careful reading showcases the author’s exquisite poetic style, drawing us into Erwin’s painful experiences and his determination to form an identity that both encompasses his roots and honors what (and who) has been lost.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Appelfeld’s novel delineates the process of becoming a writer, with details incorporated from his experience as a Holocaust survivor and refugee. . . . Throughout, he focuses not on historical events or moral judgments but on the formation of a writer, one much like himself, able to transform memory into transcendent prose.”
Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
“Appelfeld once again delivers with a novel of great sensitivity, finely attuned to the difficulties of responding to post-Holocaust living. . . . His style is never flashy, but the plainness of his writing gives these events both starkness and power.”
—Kirkus Reviews