Jim Shepard is the author of six previous novels and four collections of stories, including, You think That’s Bad; Like You’d Understand,. Anyway; Love and Hydrogen; and Project X: A Novel. His work has been published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Zoetrope, Playboy, and Vice, among other periodicals. In Shepard’s newest book The Book of Aron: A Novel (Knopf), 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. Shepard has masterfully made this child’s-eye view of the darkest history mesmerizing, sometimes comic despite all odds, truly heartbreaking, and even inspiring.