Monday, November 23, 2015

History in fiction

Despite occasional requests, we don't follow historical fiction much here, fiction coverage being (relatively) extensive -- and anyway, too often tending to encourage the "no one reads history past high school" attitude among literati who should know better.

An exception, however, for two current publications.

First, from my friends Steve Pitt the writer and Roderick Benns the publisher, a new book in Fireside Publishing's curious series of young-adult novels on the imagined mystery-solving gifts of future Canadian prime ministers.  After previous novels featuring youthful John Diefenbaker, John A. Macdonald, R.B. Bennett, and Arthur Meighen, Fireside launches its first  second future Liberal and "most requested" subject, a young Pierre Trudeau mystery by Steve Pitt called The Wail of the Wendigo: An Early Adventure of Pierre Trudeau. (Update, Nov 25: Roderick reminds me of the 2013 publication of the young Paul Martin story, Showdown at Border Town.)

Second, a new novel by travel writer, historian, essayist Ronald Wright.  Wright came to attention with his Latin-America travel books Cut Stones and Cross-Roads and Time among the Maya, and consolidated his big-history chops with Stolen Continents and A Short History of Progress, and all of these were widely published and influential.

In recent years, he has turned to fiction as well, and his new historical novel, The Gold Eaters, has been drawing pretty terrific reviews, as in the New York Times this weekend.

Its protagonist is a young Quechua, Waman, colonized first by the Incas and then by the conquistadors. He observes the Spanish conquest of the Inca world. The novel clearly draw on  the themes of imperial conquest and cultural disaster emphasized in Stolen Continents and much of Wright's nonfiction, and it is pitched as "literary fiction" rather than "young adult," -- though the lines increasingly blur.

Possibilities for your "I only read fiction" children, students, friends?
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