Aharon Appelfeld

Badenheim 1939

Badenheim 1939


'A masterpiece ... the greatest novel of the Holocaust' The Guardian

Badenheim, a resort town near the forests of Vienna, is preparing for the arts festival of the summer season. The hotel workers and local tradespeople rush to prepare the small town for the influx of vacationers. But just as the season is getting into full swing, a small note appears on a municipal notice board: the Sanitation Department is announcing an increase in its jurisdiction. No one knows what the Sanitation Department is, but no matter – the festival carries on.

Soon inspectors are spread all over town, bringing estrangement, suspicion and mistrust wherever they go. Meanwhile, the guests carry on pursuing their pleasures and the townspeople attend to their troubles. Then another announcement appears: all Jews must register with the Sanitation Department.

An allegory, satire and fable all in one, Badenheim 1939 is a story of denial and normalisation, masterfully creating an atmosphere of impending dread and horror. Gripping and unforgettable, this is one of most intriguing and eerie books ever written about the Holocaust.

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