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Cover for The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

Jim Shepard


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (5/11/2015)

May 2015 Indie Next List

“Shepard has performed a small miracle in channeling the voice of a young Jewish boy trapped in the Warsaw ghetto. He traces Aron's progression from country bumpkin and reluctant scholar to a 'macher' on the streets of Warsaw, where his cunning and courage prolong the lives of his increasingly oppressed and desperate family. Aron's story meshes with that of Janusz Korczak, well-known pediatrician, child rights advocate, and orphanage operator, when Aron is rescued from the streets after the death of all of his family members. The final scene of Korczak leading the ragtag parade of children to the train to Treblinka closes an astonishing portrayal of the Nazi evil viewed through the eyes of a very resourceful, tragic, but indefatigable child.”
— Darwin Ellis (M), Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
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Small and sullen, Aron is eight years old when his family moves from a rural Polish village to hectic Warsaw.  At first gradually and then ever more quickly, his family’s opportunities for a better life vanish as the occupying German government imposes harsh restrictions.  Officially confined to the Jewish quarter, with hunger, vermin, disease and death all around him, Aron makes his way from apprentice to master smuggler until finally, with everyone for whom he cared stripped away from him, his only option is Janusz Korczak, the renowned doctor, children’s rights advocate, and radio host who runs a Jewish orphanage. And Korczak in turn awakens the humanity inside the boy.

Praise For The Book of Aron

Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year

An ALA Notable Book of 2015

Winner of the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature

Finalist for the Jewish Book Award
Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence

“A masterpiece. . . . A story of such startling candor about the complexity of heroism that it challenges each of us to greater courage.” —The Washington Post
“Immensely rewarding, shocking and beautiful. . . . Shepard, who for years has been one of this country’s greatest fiction writers, is as original here as he has ever been.” —NPR 
“Transcendent . . . [The Book of Aron] reminds us of the infinite varieties of good and evil, and of the many paradoxical places in between. . . . Enormous power comes from its stylistic restraint [and] dignity flows from its utter lack of pretension.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Stark . . . brilliant, iconic. . . . Ranks with the best literature that explores the dark side of the human soul.” —The Toronto Star

“Shepard has distilled his meticulous research into a swift, savage narrative. . . . So rigorous and adroit in its handling of its horrific subject matter, it makes you want to investigate everything else Shepard has written.” —The Seattle Times

“Extraordinary. . . .This is a book about annihilation, and the human spirit that somehow lives on, in slivers and cracks.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“At once heartbreaking, refreshing and—hardest won of all—enchanting. Jim Shepard’s novel enters a crowded canon and it stands there, head and shoulders, with the best.” —The Jewish Quarterly

“A masterpiece [about] the possibilities of love and heroism—and their limits.” —The Times (London)
“If Aron owns the rights to the book’s seductive narrative voice, it is Korczak who embodies its enveloping humanity. . . . [They] walk into the fire, lifting The Book of Aron into a realm with the finest Holocaust fiction.” —The Boston Globe

“It is the relationship between Aron and Korczak that sits at the heart of the novel [and] it is in the orbit of this entirely good man that Aron’s scarred heart begins to heal and expand.” —Geraldine Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

“Makes us feel anew the bewilderment and horror of that time and place. . . . Flat-out brilliant and deeply empathetic.” —Guernica

“A work of art. . . . Shepard turns hell into a testament of love and sacrifice.” —Joshua Ferris, The Guardian (London)

“[Shepard has] given the story an urgency and immediacy that made this reviewer read the entire book in only two sittings. . . . A tragedy of heroism, exquisitely written and devastating as it progresses.” —Greg Walkin, The Lincoln Journal-Star
“[A] magnificent tour de force. . . . Shepard [is] a writer of extraordinary historical vision, psychological acuity, and searing irony.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Understated and devastating. . . . Pitch-perfect.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Vintage, 9781101872741, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

About the Author

JIM SHEPARD is the author of six previous novels and four story collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Electric Literature, and Vice, and has often been selected for The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children, and teaches at Williams College.