The Story of a Life

The Story of a Life


An astonishing memoir of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child, and an exquisite meditation on memory and trauma

Aharon Appelfeld was the beloved only child of middle-class Jewish parents living in what is now Ukraine at the outbreak of World War Two. Their peaceful life is upended when soldiers invade their town. His mother is shot dead in her own garden. The then-seven-year-old Aharon does not witness her murder, but he does hear her scream.

Aharon and his father are sent to a concentration camp and separated. Memory and trauma combine to create a patchwork of reminiscences. Aharon is ten years old when he escapes from the camp into the forests of Ukraine, and is overwhelmed by the sight of an apple tree laden with fruit.

Living off the land for two years before making the long journey south to Italy and eventually Israel and freedom, Appelfeld finally found a home in which he could make a life for himself, eventually becoming one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers. This is the extraordinary and painful memoir of his childhood and youth and a compelling account of a boy coming of age in a hostile world.


  • Heartstopping
    New York Times Book Review

About the author

Aharon Appelfeld

Aharon Appelfeld authored more than 45 acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction and received many international awards including the MLA Commonwealth Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, the prix Médicis étranger, the Israel prize, and the Nelly Sachs prize. Born in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine) in 1932, he survived the Holocaust and passed away in Israel in 2018.
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