Monday, June 25, 2012

The Age of Wonder

Alongside Tzili, The Age of Wonder is Appelfeld’s most fully realized novel.  Somehow he writes about the impending Holocaust without mentioning Germany or Nazism.  The first part of the novel, narrated by an unknown boy, chronicles the slow and steady decline of a Jewish intellectual family.  By the time they are sucked into the vortex, there is very little of them left to pluck.

In the second half, we meet Bruno, the narrator of the first part.  It is years after the Holocaust and he lives in Jerusalem.  He returnes to his home town, and in a series of very evocative encounters, finds that nearly everything of that former world is gone, and what is left is only a sad and shallow reminder of loss.

The Age of Wonder is Appelfeld’s most successful novel; it is both bold and restrained at once, a taut testimony of  a family’s decline and the death of a people.

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