B.A. Shapiro is not an unknown author to our community. In 2013, the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys presented her and her book “The Art Forger” at the Jewish Book Festival.
This time she invites us to delve into the idea of how we are interconnected, and often unaware of our own privileges and how we affect others. Her new novel, “Metropolis,” takes six strangers and shows just how they interconnect while giving the reader a full mystery.
Shapiro is a master when taking these six strangers and making them seem like real people–people you would recognize on the street, and whose lives you want to invest in for the ride she takes you on.
She will present “Metropolis” in a live presentation for the Jewish Book Festival at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Altadena Town and Country Club.
As an author who found success after having tried for many years, she is a great example of following your dream until it comes true. In previous interviews from 2012-2017, there are a lot of stories of how she dreamed of being a novelist even as a little girl. There are stories of her first novels and how they either got published and didn’t reach the mass market well, or were not even picked up to be published at all.
After so much hard work, and almost ready to quit writing all together, she hits the New York Times Best Seller list, and the rest is history. Shapiro counts herself lucky that she can appreciate “the fleetingness of the acclaim, which makes it even more of a gift, and makes (me) work even harder to try and keep it.”
In an interview from June 2022, Shapiro discusses the inspiration for this newest novel. While she is constantly writing down ideas for things she could be writing about, there was one thing that had been there for a while. It was a short film called “The Race of Life.”.
In the film, the racers all start on the same starting line. The person running the race says something along the lines of, “You are all about to run a race. This race represents success in life. Before we begin, I am going to make a series of statements. If the statement applies to you, you will take two steps forward.”
Then statements like, “Your parents are still together”; “You have never felt unsafe walking in your own neighborhood”; “You have never been responsible for making sure rent is paid”; and “You had access to multiple education options” are read off. As people move forward and others stay put, the gap between those with privilege and those without widens.
It becomes clear how much easier it will be for those with better opportunities in their lives to win this race. The people toward the back will still run the race and make it to the end, but it will take them far more effort to get there. You can see a version of this “Race of Life” here on YouTube to understand better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vvHWAjh3Ks.
Shapiro is the bestselling author of “The Collector’s Apprentice,” “The Muralist” and “The Art Forger,” which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction. Her books have been selected as community reads in numerous cities and translated throughout the world.
In addition to holding a Ph.D. in sociology and directing research projects for a residential substance abuse facility, Shapiro has worked as a systems analyst/statistician, headed the Boston office of a software development firm, and served as an adjunct professor teaching sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University.
According to her website, she likes writing novels the best. Shapiro lives with her family and splits her time between Boston and Naples.
Rebecca Russell is the Jewish Federation’s Program and Community Outreach Director, Barbara Levinson is a member of the Jewish Book Festival committee and both are contributing writers to JLife Magazine.