This beautiful novel opens on the eve of World War II as a group of middle-class Jews arrive in the resort town of Badenheim, somewhere in Austria, ready to spend another idyllic summer vacation. But Europe in 1939 is no vacationland. Rumours of war rumble into the resort town, but the characters struggle to convince themselves that everything is perfectly normal
First championed in the English language by Philip Roth, Appelfeld has been exploring the existential themes of the Holocaust for more than forty years. Born in Czernovitz, Bukovina (now part of Moldova) in 1932, his mother was killed in the Nazi sweep east. Appelfeld was deported to the labour camp at Transnistria, but soon escaped. He was eight years old. For the next three years he wandered the forests. In 1944 he was picked up by the Red Army, served in field kitchens in the Ukraine, and then made his way to Italy. He reached Palestine in 1946. A veteran of the Israeli Army, married, and the father of three children, he teaches Hebrew literature at Ben-Gurion University at Beer Sheeva. Appelfeld is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and among other prizes, he was awarded the Prix Medicis for Foreign Literature 2004.