“The appearance of simplicity, the look of unpremeditated speech, is of course a familiar paradox, the result of care and control, and the success with which it is achieved, and the art disguised, is one of the most notable and impressive features of this strikingly original novel, comparable in its way though very different in tone, to some of the early work of Ernest Hemingway . . . . Very powerfully, this wandering community is made to represent the historic Jewish quest for a home . . . . [A ] remarkable novel.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"Philip Roth has remarked that Appelfeld’s fiction hovers ‘midway between parable and history’—an apt description of this beautiful, dreamlike novel."
"[A] melancholy yet lyrical narrative, part picaresque novel and part enigmatic fable . . . . Mixing memory and imagination, Appelfeld produces a kind of timeless fictional realm . . . . There are gems to discover along its winding path."
"The narrative of these desperate pilgrims trying to reach the Holy Land is vintage Appelfeld: equal parts fable, folktale, Torah, and Kafka . . . rendered with the author’s trademark precision. . . . In his growing body of fiction–a novelistic kaddish–Appelfeld employs the right words, the only words, to pass along the story that should never have been. Being labeled a Holocaust writer might irritate Appelfeld, but no living novelist—not Elie Wiesel, not Amos Oz—better chronicles the spiritual vacuum and extreme disorientation that ensued in the aftermath of Auschwitz. Whatever critics choose to call him, we require his witness."
"Concentration camp survivor Appelfeld delivers a beautifully written, deeply disturbing tale of pilgrims en route to Jerusalem in pre-WW II Eastern Europe . . . . His gorgeous writing creates a stirring atmosphere, while Laish’s observations and experiences illustrate some harsh truths about survival."
"A quite narrative of high expectation and muted desperation . . . . Appelfeld writes in an unadorned yet forceful style . . . that is, paradoxically, low-key and intense."