The Book of Aron

Publisher: Emblem Editions
By National Book Award finalist Jim Shepard, a deeply affecting novel -- now in paperback -- that will join the shortlist of classics about the Holocaust and the children whose lives were caught up in it. For readers of Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, Keneally's Schindler's List; Szpilman's The Pianist; Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces; Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; the works of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Michael Chabon.

Aron, the narrator, is an engaging if peculiar and unhappy young boy whose family is driven by the German onslaught from the Polish countryside into Warsaw and slowly battered by deprivation, disease, and persecution. He and a handful of boys and girls risk their lives by scuttling around the ghetto to smuggle and trade contraband through the quarantine walls in hopes of keeping their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters alive, hunted all the while by blackmailers and by Jewish, Polish, and German police, not to mention the Gestapo.
     When his family is finally stripped away from him, Aron is rescued by Janusz Korczak, a doctor renowned throughout pre-war Europe as an advocate of children's rights who, once the Nazis swept in, was put in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. Treblinka awaits them all, but does Aron manage to escape--as his mentor suspected he could--to spread word about the atrocities?
     Jim Shepard has masterfully made this child's-eye view of the darkest history mesmerizing, sometimes comic despite all odds, truly heartbreaking, and even inspiring. Anyone who hears Aron's voice will remember it forever.


"A masterpiece. . . a remarkable novel destined to join the shelf of essential Holocaust literature. . . . a story of such startling candor about the complexity of heroism that it challenges each of us to greater courage. . . . Shepard has created something transcendent and timeless." The Washington Post
"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. . . . Shepard is well known for his media res endings; there is some small mercy in the fact that he employs such an ending here." The New York Times Book Review
"A breathtaking, heartbreaking account not only of one child's experience of terror and brutality, but a stark reminder of our own limitations and complicity. It will rightly join the masterworks of Holocaust literature, but as with the best of those books the larger truth, the fundamental humanity, emerges from the narrow specificity of the individual to embrace the universal." National Post
"Shepard's talent is so various and canny he can write about seemingly anything and make it thrilling to us. His writerly eye is acute. His instinct around a sentence is virtuosic and masterful." Richard Ford