Laish

Overview

A caravan of Jews wanders through Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth century on a heartbreaking quest. Spiritual seekers and the elderly, widows and orphans, the sick and the dying, con artists and adventurers, victims of pogroms who have no place else to go?they are all on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but the journey is filled with unexpected detours and unanticipated disaster.

Among them is Laish, a fifteen-year-old orphan, through whose eyes we observe the ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$19.48
BN.com price
(Save 18%)$23.95 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (22) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $5.95   
  • Used (18) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

A caravan of Jews wanders through Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth century on a heartbreaking quest. Spiritual seekers and the elderly, widows and orphans, the sick and the dying, con artists and adventurers, victims of pogroms who have no place else to go–they are all on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but the journey is filled with unexpected detours and unanticipated disaster.

Among them is Laish, a fifteen-year-old orphan, through whose eyes we observe the interactions within this ragtag group of dreamers, holy men, misfits, and thieves as they battle with one another, try to stay one step ahead of the gendarmes, and do what little they can to keep up their flagging spirits. With the death of the rabbi who brought the group together, they are now led by men whom Laish refers to as “the dealers”–black-market traders whose motives are questionable but who periodically infuse the group with the money they need to get to the next town.

Years pass, tempers start to fray, and the caravan grows smaller as people die or abandon the venture. A brutal winter and typhoid epidemic further decimate the ranks, and the pilgrims have begun to reach the limits of their endurance. The dream of Jerusalem keeps the remnant going, and against all odds they finally arrive–emotionally and physically exhausted–at the port city of Galacz. They see their ship in the harbor, but whether they will actually make it onto that ship is suddenly and tragically thrown into doubt.

This magnificent new novel from Aharon Appelfeld (“One of the greatest writers of the age” —The Guardian) resonates with a universality of experience: the will to survive, the struggle to hold on to hope.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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."
Ha'aretz
 
"[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."
Forward
 
"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."
—bookforum.com
 
 "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."
Publisher's Weekly
 
"A quite narrative of high expectation and muted desperation . . . . Appelfeld writes in an unadorned yet forceful style . . . that is, paradoxically, low-key and intense."
Kirkus Reviews
 

Barry Unsworth
The bareness of style and absence of ornament oblige the reader to an active imaginative collaboration, endowing Laish's account with a feeling of total honesty, of being impelled by the pressures of circumstance, not elaborated beforehand, almost improvised. The appearance of simplicity, the look of unpremeditated speech, is, of course, by 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, which Appelfeld has said was a formative influence.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Concentration camp survivor Appelfeld delivers a beautifully written, deeply disturbing tale of pilgrims en route to Jerusalem in pre-WWII Eastern Europe. Narrator Laish is a 15-year-old orphan employed by Fingerhut, a sickly and unpleasant "man of means." But when Fingerhut dies, Laish is forced to fend for himself among the pilgrims, finding work with the pious "old men" who teach him the Torah; Ploosh, a driver who kills one of the other members of the convoy; and Sruel, a former inmate who has a special connection with animals. As the journey wears on and the elements and sickness take their toll, the pilgrims reveal themselves to be a gallery of grotesques: they steal from each other, keep a mentally ill woman in a cage (and drive her out when she becomes too much trouble), sell one another out and are brutes in general. Appelfeld's gorgeous writing creates a stirring atmosphere, while Laish's observations and experiences illustrate some harsh truths about survival. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805241594
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Aharon Appelfeld is the author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Badenheim 1939, Tzili, The Iron Tracks (winner of the National Jewish Book Award), and The Story of a Life (winner of the Prix Médicis Étranger). Other honors he has received include the Giovanni Bocaccio Literary Prize, the Nelly Sachs Prize, the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize, and the MLA Commonwealth Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received honorary degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, and Yeshiva University. Born in Czernowitz, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine), in 1932, he lives in Israel.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)