What has really impressed me about Appelfeld’s writing is the depth and complexity of his characters. Blanca’s character especially is so real that I often forget this is written in third-person. The novel seems more like her autobiography.
Appelfeld retells every little thought that goes through Blanca’s mind, almost like a stream of consciousness but it doesn’t feel forced at all. Her character is not static or one moment angry, one moment sad. What she feels is complicated and confusing, the way actual feelings are like. Her daily life and thoughts seem organic and very personal. The insight into Blanca’s character is so profound that it is not clear or easy to describe what she is like. The same way one cannot use three words to describe someone, people are more complicated than that. Blanca is Blanca, that is all. I am amazed at Appelfeld’s ability to create such a human-like character.
Blanca is my age for a lot of the book (she is 18-19 when she marries?). It is so strange to me that a 63-year-old man can make such an accurate and realistic portrayal of what is like to be young woman. I find I can relate to Blanca, which weirds me out because this is actually a 63 year-old man I am relating to. Appelfeld has never been an 18 year-old-girl or a daughter, so how does he know these things?
It is clear to me that Appelfeld truly understands the human condition and psyche since his characters have a level of complexity and authenticity I have never encountered before.