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As an old woman, a gentile peasant from the Ukraine reminisces about the most touching and cruel events in her life: leaving home at an early age; working as a housekeeper in a Jewish household; learning to love the family--and, moreso, their beliefs--and the pain she ultimately endures because of that love.
“Appelfeld reimagines the place of his own origins through a perspective that in its generosity of feeling recalls Tolstoy and Chekhov.”
—Judith Grossman, The New York Times Book Review
Posted December 9, 2008
Sixty-three years ago then teenager Katerina left her Ukraine village because her father¿s mountain of a second wife makes her uncomfortable with her demands and she fears the changes in her father since her mom died. She travels to Poland where she obtains work as a housekeeper to different Jewish families. Katerina finds her hosts treat her with respect and kindness unlike her own blood she is horrified with how the non-Jewish Poles mistreat her employers even getting away with murder. --- When her son, raised Jewish, is killed, she knifes his murderer. Of course killing a Jew is not necessarily a crime, but killing the killer is so Katerina spends the next four decades incarcerated. She is shocked during World War II when her fellow prisoners gleefully applaud the transporting of the Jews to concentration camps. When the war ends, Katerina is freed and returns to her Ukraine family farm knowing no Jews live in Europe except those from her memories occupying a major place in her heart and soul as she writes her life¿s lament while closing in on her eightieth birthday. --- KATERINA is a terrific insightful look at a woman who believes one must never forget those you love martyred in your soul by a world filled with morally always right killers. The sad Katerina knows first hand that intolerance and prejudice in any form murders even the innocent. Aharon Appelfeld provides a strong poignant reflection on life and death. --- Harriet Klausner
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