Acclaimed Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld returns again to his homeland, the European killing fields of the 20th century, in his new novel, Until the Dawn’s Light (Schocken). His story, skillfully translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green, follows Blanca, a Jewish high school student in Austria, who marries a gentile laborer and converts to Christianity, as was the custom for many Jews seeking to advance in society, or just escape bigotry. Anti-Semitism is omnipresent in this tale set several decades prior to the mass murder of European Jewry. In this thoroughly sad story, Blanca finds herself trapped in a marriage to a brutish man. Her liberation is marked by shocking violence and a denouement that reminds the reader of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. — M.S.
(American Jewish World, 2.3.12)