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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.