Octogenarian wins Indie Foreign Fiction Prize

Octogenarian wins Indie Foreign Fiction Prize

Octogenarian Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his novel, published by Alma Books, which is based on his experiences during the Holocaust.

Blooms of Darkness is told from the perspective of 11-year-old Hugo, who is taken in by Mariana, a prostitute, to keep him safe as Jewish people are sent to concentration camps.

Appelfeld, speaking at the ceremony last night (14th May), said: "I wanted to explore the darkest places of human behaviour and to show that even there, generosity and love can survive; that humanity and love can overcome cruelty and brutality."

Now 80 years old, Appelfeld was born in what is now Western Ukraine and was deported to a labour camp when he was 12. He managed to escape, and was picked up by the Red Army in 1944, eventually ending up in Palestine by the age of 14.

The author of more than 40 books, Appelfeld shares his £10,000 prize money with translator Jeffrey M Green, who translated the novel from Hebrew to English.

Green said: "Translators are humble people by nature, so it is astonishing and gratifying for translators to be honoured by the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize… It has been a privilege to be Aharon’s voice in English."