JERUSALEM – Aharon Appelfeld, a prolific Israeli writer who had an international readership, died on Thursday. He was 85.
He wrote 47 books in Hebrew, a language he began to learn in 1946 when he settled in what was then still the British Mandate of Palestine.
His books, many of them set during the time of the Holocaust, have been translated into other languages, including English, French and Spanish.
Appelfeld was born into a Jewish, German-speaking family in the Bukovina region, at the time part of Romania but now under Ukrainian rule.
He and his father were deported in 1940 to a German concentration camp, but the young Appelfeld managed to escape and went into hiding, finding safety among peasants, prostitutes, criminals and vagrants before joining up with some Soviet soldiers.
After the conflict, he ended up in a displaced persons camp in Italy, from where he left for Palestine at the age of 14.
Appelfeld’s writing drew heavily on the events of his own life.
“I’m not writing memoirs – I’m using pieces of my own experience,” he said in a 2012 interview with British newspaper The Independent.
Appelfeld was the recipient of multiple literary honors, including the 1983 Israel Prize and the 1989 National Jewish Book Award for fiction. In 1997 he was appointed Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.