Battling numbing cold, ever-present hunger, and German soldiers determined to hunt them down, four dozen resistance fighters—escapees from a nearby ghetto—hide in a Ukrainian forest, determined to survive the war, sabotage the German war effort, and rescue as many Jews as they can from the trains taking them to concentration camps.
Surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, Appelfeld suggests with characteristic terseness, entails more than simply the fight to keep breathing ... The struggle to save others is a moving one. As one elderly survivor says to Edmund, with great wonder: 'Even after disgrace and humiliation and abuse, people rise up from the dust to revive and help others.'
... Appelfeld gives readers an up-close, deeply moving story of characters haunted by grief and loss yet buoyed by courage and hope in the most adverse conditions ... a memorable chronicle of those who sought to persevere at the height of one of the world’s worst moments.
The uniquely strange atmosphere of Appelfeld’s fiction comes from the fact that, because he could not remember his own past, he was forced to imagine it ... In his novels...Appelfeld writes with entranced certainty about experiences that could never have been his and worlds that don’t quite resemble the real one ... In To the Edge of Sorrow, the society...is a band of Jewish partisans during the Second World War. Numbering fewer than fifty, they hide in the Ukrainian countryside, raiding farms for supplies and hoping to hold out until the arrival of the Red Army. This sounds like the premise of a wartime adventure story, but, although we do hear about shoot-outs and sabotage missions, Appelfeld’s narrative style is inherently unsuspenseful. His novels are not about waiting for what will happen next but about immersion in a timeless present, a bubble world that is all the more enthralling because you know it is about to pop.