Resource Archive

posted on 07 Jan 2018

Aharon Appelfeld and the Truth of Fiction in Remembering the Holocaust by Philip Gourevitch

This article has been published on The New Yorker website. It begins:

Im a hero in one of Philip Roth’s novels,” the Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld told me, nearly twenty years ago, over lunch at a Jerusalem café where he liked to work. It was the sort of thing that a Philip Roth hero would say, particularly in the book in question, “Operation Shylock,” a mashup of nonfiction and fiction, in which Roth goes to interview Appelfeld at the same café where I met him, and, while he’s in Jerusalem, gets embroiled with a zealous impostor who is posing as the real Philip Roth. The interview itself is the real deal, not a work of imagination but, rather, an uncommonly intelligent piece of literary journalism, which had run in the Times years before Roth wove it into the book. But, just as Roth has his fictional double in the book, Appelfeld, too, is present there both as a nonfictional voice and as a character who is, in significant respects, Roth’s invention. This experience, of being a novelist who got novelized, had taken Appelfeld by surprise. He said Roth never let on that he was going to do that to him, and it was strange to have people calling him to ask if he really was a member of the Mossad, as the book suggested. But Appelfeld didn’t mind. “It never disturbed me because Philip is a good friend of mine, and I know I am in his fantasy,” he said, and he added, “I always felt that fiction was the way to the deepest truths.”

You can continue reading the full article by clicking on this link to The New Yorker