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
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.
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.