Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld dies at 85

JERUSALEM: Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld, a Holocaust survivor who became one of the foremost contemporary Hebrew-language writers, died on Thursday aged 85, officials said.

Israeli public radio said that he passed away at Beilinson hospital near Tel Aviv in the early hours of Thursday morning.

He told in a 2010 interview how he fled into the forests, where he was “adopted by a gang of Ukrainian criminals”. He was recruited into the advancing Red Army until 1945 and left the following year for Palestine.

“No one wanted orphans in Europe. The only place we could go was Palestine,” he said. In 1957 he discovered that his father had also survived and they were reunited in Israel. He published the first of more than 40 novels and collections of poetry in 1962 and won several awards throughout his career.

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They included the prestigious Israel Prize in 1983 and France’s Prix Medicis literary award for best foreign book in 2004 for his 1999 autobiography “Story of a Life”.

Although much of his writing is of Jewish life in Europe before, during and after World War II, he refused to be classified as a Holocaust writer.

Arab countries have not made similar statements publicly and continue to criticise Israel

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