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The Shadow King


An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best ...
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What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

Created: 09/16/20

Replies: 7

Posted Sep. 16, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

The Shadow King highlights the previously lesser-known role of female soldiers fighting in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (and in world conflicts more generally). To what extent do you think art is the most useful means of changing existing historical narratives? What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?


Posted Sep. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janines

Join Date: 11/21/16

Posts: 17

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

Fiction gives an author the opportunity to "shape" an historical event into a narrative that has more "flesh and blood" impact than a non-fiction approach which often strives to be dispassionate and factual in presentation sometimes leaving a read to wonder what really happened. Fiction allows the author to enter into the "heads" and "hearts" of either real historical people or "made up" characters who lived these "real" events and doing so the reader is afforded the opportunity to maybe have an understanding of what "could have" happened. I think all of us are always secretly desirous of knowing this so this is why historical fiction is so popular.


Posted Sep. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ylhoff

Join Date: 10/23/12

Posts: 70

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

This story was exceptional for its depiction of historic events. I often stopped to look up events and people on the internet. Eye opening!


Posted Sep. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Elizabeth Marie

Join Date: 05/26/18

Posts: 69

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

Fiction allows the author to explore aspects of the human experience that non-fiction cannot. Fiction permits a laser focus on one or more elements of the experience and allows the reader to get inside the minds and hearts of the characters.


Posted Sep. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 293

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

I think using fiction attracts readers who may not otherwise have known about or been interested in the history enough to read a non-fiction book.

In my knowledge of war in Europe, I know more about Germany and Japan during WWII. Of course, I have heard of Mussolini, but I have never read a lot or studied about Italy's move into Africa or much else for that matter. There are so many other historic events I am more interested in dedicating my time to reading about. However, this book sounded fascinating. Fiction drew me into the topic, and I am now supplementing my introduction with non-fiction articles.


Posted Sep. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elisabethc

Join Date: 07/16/19

Posts: 42

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

I think it's important to remember that historical fiction doesn't have to be primarily about education, and it doesn't have to happen in a vacuum. It can be its own means of pure invention and can even be personal. In this case, for example, the author based the book on information she was given from parents and relatives and a story of her great-grandmother that she discovered later.

When I read Min Jin Lee's Pachinko, which begins in Japan-occupied Korea, it gave me a new perspective on the life of my grandmother, who lived in that time and place, not because it was an objective overview of events but because it was a diaspora invention that added to the overall pool of art and culture shared between certain pasts and presents. This book reminded me somewhat of that one, because it does much more (with language, with character, etc.) than just recount historical events.


Posted Sep. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeto

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 27

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

As mentioned by others, fiction gives the author more freedom to tell the story. In the case of The Shadow King I appreciated the way she added visual and other details to the setting that allowed the reader to be more fully present in the moment. e.g. I could almost feel the pain in my hand when Hirut grabbed the barb wire at the prison and the birds flying over the canyon made the sense of flight and falling much more real than a strictly historical account would have provided.


Posted Sep. 29, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jenniferk

Join Date: 02/08/20

Posts: 8

RE: What are the advantages of using fiction to showcase new aspects of historical experience, versus nonfiction?

Fiction has the opportunity to give us more details and depth of characters and scenes. This is usually so much more interesting than reading a non-fiction account of something in history. It gives us the opportunity to have a multidimensional view. It's much easier for me to learn something on this type of platform because it's so much more intriguing (stories are more intriguing than facts).


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