Katerina by Aharon Appelfeld

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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.

About Aharon Appelfeld

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Aharon Appelfeld is the award-winning author of more than forty internationally acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including Badenheim 1939, The Iron Tracks, Blooms of Darkness, and Until the Dawn's Light.
Published September 22, 2009 by Schocken. 223 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Katerina here is a Ruthenian peasant woman who, before the Holocaust, worked for Jewish families--families whom she feared, was fascinated by, stole from, and ultimately identified with so oddly that their memories will very much determine the course of her largely cursed life.

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Publishers Weekly

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With piercing clarity, Israeli novelist Appelfeld tells the profoundly moving story of Katerina, a Polish housekeeper who works for a succession of Jewish families in the years before WW II.

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Historical Novel Society

Czernowitz, Ukraine, is the setting for Katerina.

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