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Poland, a Green Land

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Poland, a Green Land by Aharon Appelfeld
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Jun 20, 2023 | ISBN 9780593669259 | 372 Minutes

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Praise

“Appelfeld was one of the most revered Israeli writers of his generation . . . Interestingly, it was his affinity with the minimalist European masters of ‘intellectual displacement’—Franz Kafka, Bruno Schulz, Albert Camus—that became his most notable literary trait. Poland, a Green Land is written with his characteristic economy of language and powerful imagery . . . With deep wisdom  and sensitivity, it explores the tragic consequences of denying one’s inner truth. Appelfeld’s unique literary achievement is his ability to also include the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and their descendants in this psychological link between past and present.”
—Elena Lappin, The Washington Post
 
“More than any other writer in Hebrew (his adopted language), Aharon Appelfeld, a master of understatement who died in 2018, conjures the obscene horror of the Shoah, and he does so without graphic scenes of crematoria or even using the word ‘Nazi’ . . . In the spare prose of Stuart Schoffman’s translation, Yaakov Fine’s journey takes on the authority of a fable.”
Steven G. Kellman, Forward

“An enthralling novel suffused with quiet brilliance and subtle power . . . Appelfeld’s fluid, limpid, trick-free prose contains pockets of beauty, and he routinely captives with various tales and set-piece scenes . . . What starts out as a straightforward pilgrimage with the opportunity for fact finding and soul searching soon turns into a complex journey of self-discovery filled with dark revelations and painful home truths . . . Skillfully translated by Stuart Schoffman . . . this is a slow burn of a book, and it is all the better for it . . . it smolders with urgency and potency.”
Malcolm Forbes, The Washington Examiner

“Smoothly translated by Stuart Schoffman, Poland, A Green Land is deceptively easy to read—nary a fancy or excess word—but the ease cloaks a tension-building intensity.”
—Neal Gendler, American Jewish World
 
“Appelfeld masterfully weaves multiple narrative threads that entwine and inform one another, [and] his portrayal of Polish peasantry is nuanced and complex . . . Touching and profound, Poland, a Green Land transports the reader to the disappeared world of the Polish shtetl, revealing how its tragic past continues to haunt both Jewish émigrés and the Polish village.”
—Basia Winograd, Jewish Book Council
 
“An engrossing tale of a Jewish man’s return to his ancestral village . . . Appelfeld structures the narrative in dreamed conversations between Yaakov and his deceased mother, which offer an account of what his parents couldn’t tell him when they were alive: that as a young married couple during WWII, they hid in cellars, a cowshed, and in the forest, and that his grandparents were burned alive in their synagogue. The dreams are vivid and economically written, and the unsettling, unresolved ending adds heft. This powerful, bittersweet performance does not disappoint.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“Appelfeld, who didn’t often make explicit references to the Holocaust in his fiction and uses that word only once here, attains raw emotion with his account of horrific violence. The book has a fuzzy, dreamlike quality, leading to a more detached ending than in masterpieces such as The Age of Wonders and The Conversion. But this work, being published in English for the first time, still haunts . . . A powerful and timely addition to Appelfeld’s great body of work.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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