Holocaust novel wins prestigious Jewish literary award

'The Book of Aron' by Jim Shepard
'The Book of Aron' by Jim Shepard

The Book of Aron: A Novel, by Jim Shepard, received the 2016 Sophie Brody Medal for achievement in Jewish literature at the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association in Boston on Sunday.

The novel, a story of an 8-year-old boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, competed for the prize against other literary works, including After Abel and Other Stories by Michal Lemberger; The Complete Works of Primo Levi by Primo Levi and edited by Ann Goldstein; The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky; and Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron.

Shepard’s book revolves around 8-year-old Aron, who comes from a poor Jewish family that finds itself in the Warsaw Ghetto. Aron is forced to smuggle and steal in order to survive, and ultimately is helped by Dr. Janusz Korczak, a real-life renowned Jewish doctor known for declining the offer to be saved from a Nazi so that a group of Jewish orphans would not be sent alone to the gas chambers.

Shepard is a professor at Williams College who has written six novels and collections of stories.

The Sophie Brody Medal is funded by the Arthur Brody and the Brodart Foundation, and is named for Jewish leader and philanthropist Sophie Brody.