15/05/2012 08:18 BST | Updated 14/07/2012 10:12 BST

Holocaust Survivor Aharon Appelfeld Wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize With 'Blooms Of Darkness'

A Holocaust survivor who escaped from a Second World War labour camp has won a literary prize for a novel inspired by his experiences.

Aharon Appelfeld's Blooms Of Darkness was awarded the £10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize at an event in central London making the 80-year-old the oldest ever winner of the prize.

The novel, translated from the Hebrew into English by Jeffrey M Green, beat five other books including the latest novel by The Name Of The Rose author Umberto Eco.

It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy, Hugo, who is sheltered by a prostitute, Mariana, as the war rages around them.

Mr Appelfeld, who was born in what is now Western Ukraine and sent to a camp when he was seven years old, said the book was "a work of fiction that includes my personal experience during the Second World War".

He 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. It is a joy to win the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize alongside Jeffrey M Green - he is a highly professional translator and I love his work."

The prize is shared between the translator and the writer.

Journalist Hephzibah Anderson, who was one of this year's judges, said: "Jeffrey M Green's incantatory translation from the Hebrew does ample justice to a novel that meditates on the imagination, memory and language itself.

"As the relationship between Hugo and Mariana evolves, this deceptively simple narrative does something extraordinary, carrying the reader to a liminal territory in which deep sensuality exists alongside unfathomable brutality."