Sunday, August 12, 2018

WITMonth Day 12 | 10 Recommended Historical Fiction Books

Ever since I was a child, one of my favorite genres has been historical fiction. There's just something about sinking into a world that is both richly different from my own (the way that fantasy or science fiction might be), but also rooted in history and delightfully educational. To this day, I love reading historical fiction and then immediately going to the sources: Did this really happen? What was life like in this country during this time? How did the events that affected these characters actually play out? What else was going on during that period? And so on. As a result, I'll often try to get my hands on as many historical fiction titles as possible, especially those from different countries, backgrounds, historical periods, and perspectives. There's so much of the world to explore through historical fiction!

  1. The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende (tr. Magda Bogin): A modern classic of Latin American literature and the epitome of a "sweeping family epic", spanning decades and infusing its history with magical realism.
  2. Segu - Maryse Condé (tr. Barbara Bray): A stunning, expansive, and emotionally pulsing history of Segu (modern-day Mali), exploring religion, changing customs, war, and family.
  3. Little Aunt Crane - Geling Yan (tr. Esther Tyldesley): The history of a Japanese woman left behind in post-WWII China, taken as a secret slave surrogate womb for a childless young couple and gradually becomes a member of their family in a rapidly changing China.
  4. The Doctor's Wife - Sawako Ariyoshi (tr. Wakako Hironaka and Ann Siller Kostant): A quiet and quietly directed story of the wife of Japanese doctor Hanaoka Seishū, her influence on his work, and the lives of Japanese women during the late 18th century.
  5. Dance on the Volcano - Marie Vieux-Chauvet (tr. Kaiama L. Glover): The story of Minette, a young Haitian woman with exceptional singing talent, shunned for her race but admired for her talent, all alongside Haiti's tumultuous history and history of racism.
  6. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem - Sarit Yishai-Levi (tr. Anthony Berris): Jerusalem through the eyes of the women of the Sephardic Ermosa family, "cursed" never to be loved by their husbands, spanning the Ottoman empire, the British Mandate, Israel's War of Independence, and through modern Israeli history.
  7. The Court Dancer - Kyung-Sook Shin (tr. Anton Hur): A young dancer in the Korean Empire's court finds herself in a new world and new life, but unable to escape the old.
  8. The Queen of Jhansi - Mahasweta Devi (tr. Sagaree and Mandira Sengupta): Something between biography and historical fiction, an account of the epic Queen of Jhansi in her battle against the British.
  9. The Free Negress Elisabeth - Cynthea McLeod (tr. Brian Doyle): The fictional history of Elisabeth Samson, a free black woman in Suriname overcoming racism.
  10. Granada - Radwa Ashour (tr. William Granara): The history of the Spanish-based Muslim-Christian conflict and Arab history at large.

Sidenote for those who notice: Yes, it was intentional.

1 comment:

  1. what an outstanding list. thank you so much for compiling this!


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