Katerinaby Aharon Appelfeld
Fleeing an abusive home, Katerina, a teenage peasant in Ukraine in the 1880s, is taken in by a Jewish family and becomes their housekeeper. Feeling the warmth of family life for the first time and incorporating the family’s customs and rituals into her own Christian observances, Katerina is traumatized when the parents are murdered in separate pogroms and the children are taken away by relatives. She finds work with other Jewish families, all of whom are subjected to relentless persecution by their neighbors. When the beloved child she had with her Jewish lover is murdered, Katerina kills the murderer and is sent to prison. Released from prison years later, in the chaos following the end of World War II, a now elderly Katerina is devastated to find a world that has been emptied of its Jews and that is not at all sorry to see them gone. Ever the outsider, Katerina realizes that she has survived only to bear witness to the fact that these people had ever existed at all.
—Anne Roiphe, Los Angeles Times
“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
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
Aharon Appelfeld is the award-winning author of more than twenty internationally acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including Badenheim 1939, Tzili, The Iron Tracks, and The Story of a Life. He lives in Jerusalem.
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"Hey, I was told to tell you, to go to 'Katerin's wish', I think thats where she told me to tell you to go, okay?"
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