Devin Murphy Will Discuss His Controversial New Novel on January 14

A New York Times review of Devin Murphy’s recent debut novel The Boat Runner states that the book is “deadly earnest, full of discomfiting nuance.” It is a first-person narrative of a young Dutchman still in his teens, Jacob Koopman, who becomes a Nazi soldier during the Second World War, and his grappling with the guilt of his decisions and actions during and after the war.
Murphy’s actual family connections and his past work experience need to be understood behind his motivation in writing the book. His mother was born in Nazi- occupied Holland in 1942. The author married into a Jewish family, and his children are being raised Jewish. His wife’s two living grandfathers are both American veterans of the Second World War. Murphy himself worked at sea for three plus years in his early twenties.
Now an assistant professor of creative writing at Bradley University, Murphy has crafted a book that explores Jacob’s odyssey into the hellish life that he chose for himself. It’s a fast-paced story, describing Jacob’s harrowing adventures. But one ponders the question that the New York Times reviewer asks at the end of her review: “Are there actions that simply remain unforgivable?”
Devin Murphy will be speaking at Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago on Sunday morning, January 14 at 10:15. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Please contact me at if you plan on attending.