Arts & Letters Live: Anthony Doerr & Jim Shepard: Compassion and Catastrophe

Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art

In All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s luminous novel, the paths of a blind French girl and a German boy collide as they struggle to survive in occupied France during World War II. This 2014 National Book Award Finalist deftly illustrates the enduring power of human kindness even in the worst of circumstances, and was described by the New Yorker as “a meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.” A hauntingly beautiful account of strife and transcendence, Doerr worked on the novel for 10 years. Among his many awards, Doerr has won four O. Henry Prizes, three Pushcart Prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Story Prize.

Jim Shepard’s The Book of Aron, also set during World War II, tells the story of a young boy, Aron, whose family has been driven into the Warsaw Ghetto and gradually disappears one by one, leaving him with no option but to join a group of children risking their lives to keep people alive by smuggling and trading commodities. Shepard’s short story collection Like You’d Understand, Anyway won the Story Prize in 2008 and was a National Book Award Finalist. His work has been published in McSweeney’s, Granta, the Atlantic, Esquire, and the New Yorker.



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