Aharon Appelfeld, shown in 1996 in a Jerusalem cafe where...

Aharon Appelfeld, shown in 1996 in a Jerusalem cafe where he often worked on his novels in longhand. Credit: AP / Will Yurman

Aharon Appelfeld, an esteemed Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor who became a leading voice in Holocaust literature, has died. He was 85.

Appelfeld was born in Romania before the rise of the Nazis, lost his mother in the mass murder of Jews during World War II and was only reunited with his father 20 years later.

He later rose to become one of Israel’s most prolific Hebrew-language writers, even though he only learned the language as a teenager.

Appelfeld wrote more than 40 works of fiction and nonfiction that were translated into many languages, including the novel “Badenheim 1939” and a memoir, “The Story of a Life.” Among the awards he received are the Israel Prize, the National Jewish Book Award and the Prix Médicis Étranger. His novel “Blooms of Darkness” was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013.

Acclaimed American-Jewish author Philip Roth called him “a displaced writer of displaced fiction, who has made of displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own.”

Appelfeld is survived by his wife and three children. His novel “The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping” will be published in the United States by Schocken on Jan. 31.

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