Blackwell North Amer Philip Roth has said that Aharon Appelfeld is "a dislocated writer, a deported writer, a dispossessed and uprooted writer . . . a displaced writer of displaced fiction, who has made of displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own." In Beyond Despair, the first collection of essays by the celebrated Israeli novelist, Appelfeld locates the roots of his displacement. "Who and what is a Jew?" asks Appelfeld, who belongs to the generation whose youth was lost in the Holocaust. In search of an answer, he examines the emotional and psychic aftereffects of the Holocaust. For his generation, assimilation was no longer a goal - it had become a heritage and a way of life. As a consequence, through the Holocaust the Jews were confronted with the disintegration of their belief systems; the near-extinction of the Jewish people inflicted not only physical and emotional pain but also spiritual suffering. The inability to express the horrors of the Holocaust, combined with guilt feelings of the survivors, led to silence. Appelfeld explores the role of art in redeeming pain from darkness, and the conflicting desires to speak out and to keep silent. He forcefully argues that the Jewish people need a spiritual vision. In his conversation with Philip Roth, Appelfeld sheds light on his work and talks with candor about his life, influences, and concerns.