Blooms of darkness by Aharon Appelfeld
Translator Jeffery M Green
I just don’t know what has taken me so long to get to one of his books I pleased The IFFP longlist gave me the nudge to try him Aharon Apppelfeld is an Israeli writer ,he was born in Romania and spent time in the concentration camp in Romania with his father which he never saw again after they arrive ,he then moved to Palestine after the world war two was over and then to the state of Israeli when it was founded .He is well-known for using his war experiences as a diving board to explore the holocaust and not maybe his own tale but the effect of the holocaust and afterwards how the people involved returned to normal life .He is also a great admired in the Jewish writing community ,the writer Philip Roth used him as a character in one of his novels and said of him he is a displaced writer writing displaced fiction .
So we get to the book , blooms of darkness and it is a story set in Poland in world war two just as the Nazis invade ,it’s the story of two souls that maybe for the wrong reason find solace and love in one another .The first is a young boy Hugo,he is thoughtful boy more worried about his parents than himself . He is Jewish and is brought by his parents to be hidden in the home of Mariana .Now we come to Mariana is a prostitute. She is a women that hates her life and the fact that she is given the chance to help this young boy is a bright light in her dark world .So Hugo arrives and find himself in a pink girly room that of Marianne ,in the times when no ones about he comes out into the room but at other times when she ha to service the german soldiers he has to stop in a dark closet as he hers the sounds outside and how badly treated Mariana is by the soldiers as they abuse her .He just has to sit there and she his savour take this .This maybe is what makes the second part of the book his feelings of caring
For a long time Hugo stands still ,wondering about the nature of this Roomy place.Finally he sums it up for himself :it’s not a beauty Parlour .There isn’t a broad bed in the middle of a beauty Parlour .
Meanwhile ,Marianna comes back with a tray of little sandwiches and says ,”this is for you .Sit in the armchair and eat as much as you want ”
Young Hugo arrives at the brothel to be put in the care of Mariana .
As the war moves on Hugo is a boy who quickly grows to the edge of manhood Mariana when she leaves him in another women’s care at the brothel .He has to escapes capture,finds Mariana and comes to rescue her from the bottle as she has started drinking heavily .I know some of the judges have struggle with the dynamics of this relationship but I feel it is natural you spend time with someone in such circumstances it ends people care and Hugo is such a gentle chap and Mariana is the classic tart with a heart that needs a knight in shining armour and that turns out in the end to be Hugo. A form of Stockholm syndrome (not Helsinki as some people say ).This is a new take on a holocaust story A boy hidden I m reminded a bit of the german film Europa Europe the story of a boy who spent the war pretending to be german not Jewish and had relationships along the way ,this is part love story ,part coming of age .Like Anne franks diary it shows that love can be a strong tie what ever the circumstance .Aharon has shown why he considered one of the foremost Hebrew writers .Jeffrey M green translated it he has a number of major Hebrew writers you can see here .
Have you read Appelfeld ?
What’s your favourite Hebrew writer ?