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Jim Shepard wins inaugural Clark Fiction Prize for ‘Book of Aron’

Jim Shepard (photo by Barry Goldstein)
Jim Shepard (Photo by Barry Goldstein)

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
February 6, 2017

Jim Shepard’s novel, The Book of Aron, has won the inaugural L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize.

Shepard will be honored March 8 at the Wittliff Collections in Texas State’s Alkek Library. The prize of $25,000 is one of the largest literary awards in the United States.  

The prize, established at Texas State in 2016 and administered by the Department of English, is designed to recognize an exceptional, recently-published book-length work of fiction in celebration of the Clarks’ lifelong contributions to, and love for, literature and the arts. 

In The Book of Aron, Shepard explores the troubled life of Aron, a small, sullen 8-year-old whose family moves from a rural Polish village to hectic Warsaw in search of a better life. His family’s hopes for the future crumble as the occupying German government imposes harsh restrictions. Officially confined to the Jewish quarter, with hunger, vermin, disease and death all around, everyone for whom Aron cared is stripped away from him. Alone, his only hope lies with Janusz Korczak, the renowned doctor, children’s rights advocate and radio host who runs a Jewish orphanage, who awakens the lost humanity inside the boy.

The Book of Aron
The Book of Aron

Shepard is the author of seven 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. Five of his short stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories. He is a professor of creative writing and film at Williams College in Massachusetts. 

The Clark Prize short list included The Sellout by Paul Beatty, The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota and Honey from the Lion by Matthew Neill Null. Nominations of works published in 2015 were solicited from 12 prominent writers on the condition of anonymity. The permanent fiction faculty at Texas State narrowed those nominations down to the short list, and Cristina García, University Endowed Chair in Creative Writing 2012-2014, made the final selection.

About the L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Literary Endowment

L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark donated their home and other property to Texas State in 2009 to create an endowment to support writers-in-residence. The Clark Literary Endowment funds the annual L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize, which is among the most generous fiction prizes in the country. It also funds a writers-in-residence program that offers one-year residencies to graduates of the Texas State MFA program at the Clarks’ historic home on Main Street in Smithville, 55 miles east of the Texas State campus. The writers-in-residence program is sponsored by the Department of English and MFA program in creative writing within the College of Liberal Arts. The Endowment also funds numerous scholarships for Texas State MFA students.

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