TZILI: The Story of a Life by Aharon Appelfeld

TZILI: The Story of a Life

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Tzili is the youngest--and slowest--of a large Jewish family, the Krauses. She is good but unlearned; and when the Nazis come, the family quite cruelly decides to leave Tzili behind. Perhaps, they say, she'll be able to hold on to whatever property they have. But that's a dream, of course: Tzili must eventually flee like everyone else--running into the forest, passing herself off to anyone she meets as one of the daughters of a local whore named Maria. And though this wins her revilement, it also wins her temporary security and survival. . . till she meets a concentration-camp escapee, Mark, who becomes her protector (and eventual impregnator). But finally Mark will leave--and Tzili will thereafter be caught up in the nightmarish wandering of the post-war dispossessed. Appelfeld (Badenheim 1939, The Age of Wonders) makes the character of Tzili as blank as a slate; he strips the story down to bare essentials, encouraging readers to approach this novella as a fable of the Diaspora. And there are effective, indelible moments along the way. But so always self-aware is Appelfeld's minimalism that this tale--like his previous books--is more successful as a disconnected series of episodes (which have a certain sameness about them) than as fully shaped fiction.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1983
ISBN: 0802134556
Publisher: Dutton