Aharon Appelfeld was a novelist and short story writer who is best known for his Hebrew-language allegorical novels of the Holocaust.

Born in Ukraine in 1932, Appelfeld had his life torn apart at the age of eight when he and his parents were captured by Nazi troops. They killed his mother, and Appelfeld and his father were sent to a labour camp. He eventually managed to escape and, incredibly for such a young child, survived living wild for a couple of years in the Ukranian countryside.

At the age of 15, he travelled to Palestine where he joined the Israeli army for two years, which enabled him to re-start the education that had been disrupted by the war. He went on to study philosophy at Hebrew University and taught Hebrew literature at Israeli universities.

Although Appelfeld’s works in English translation deal primarily with the Holocaust, his writings cover a wider range of subject matter. His written work includes Bagai ha-poreh (1963; In the Wilderness), Ha-Ketonet veha-pasim (1983); Tzili: The Story of a Life), Bartfus ben ha-almavet (1988; The Immortal Bartfuss), Katerinah (1989; Katerina), Mesilat barzel (1991; The Railway), and Unto the Soul (1994). Beyond Despair: Three Lectures and a Conversation with Philip Roth was published in 1994.

He was shortlisted for The Man Booker International Prize in 2013 for his entire body of work.

Aharon Appelfeld

The Man Booker International Prize

Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.

Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.

The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.