Wynn Wheldon

‘It’s always wrong to starve’

Jim Shepard’s novel The Book of Aron tells (with the bitterest black humour) the little-known story of a real-life paediatrician who devoted his life to the orphans of the Warsaw ghetto

‘My mother and father named me Aron, but my father said they should have named me What Have You Done, and my uncle told everyone they should have called me What Were You Thinking.’ So begins, with bitter Jewish humour, this involving book set largely in the Warsaw ghetto.

There is a hint of unnerving pastiche in this, but it is a sentence that finds an echo in the compassionate words of Jim Shepard’s hero, Janusz Korczak, in the final sentence of the book.

Korczak was a real figure, a paediatrician who...

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