cover image Blooms of Darkness

Blooms of Darkness

Aharon Appelfeld, Author, Jeffrey M. Green, Translator , trans.

In this powerful novel from award-winning Israeli writer Appelfeld, two discarded souls form an unlikely bond in the chaos of occupied Ukraine during WWII. When the Jews are being rounded up, 11-year-old Hugo’s mother hides him with her childhood friend, Mariana, a prostitute in a brothel. Locked in a closet every night, Hugo hears Mariana at work and disappears into dreams and visions about his family and friends. Mariana takes loving if sporadic care of Hugo and slowly she becomes Hugo’s whole world. Hugo returns Mariana’s kindness by lifting her spirits as her moods swing from frivolity and disregard for the destruction around her to deep depression about the indignities she endures. Mariana is an exhilarating tragicomic heroine, a woman who is both alcoholic, manic-depressive, and believer in a God she long ago abandoned. The lean, spare prose does not shy away from harsh realities. A simple story that encapsulates the joy and sadness of a coming-of-age novel with the trauma of a world in the midst of destruction. (Mar.)