Genre: Diversity in Historical Fiction

June 5, 2018, 9:45 am to Noon
Diversity in Historical Fiction
Jones Library, Amherst


by Yaa Gyasi


Diverse books are those that reflect and honor the life experience of all readers. We Need Diverse Books defines diversity as: “including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”

*including but not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction), as well as a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

Historical Fiction (Wikipedia):

Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction can be an umbrella term; though commonly used as a synonym for describing the historical novel; the term can be applied to works in other narrative formats, such as those in the performing and visual arts like theatre, opera, cinema and television, as well as video games and graphic novels.

An essential element of historical fiction is that it is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions and other details of the period depicted. Authors also frequently choose to explore notable historical figures in these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals might have responded to their environments. Some subgenres such as alternate history and historical fantasy insert speculative or ahistorical elements into a novel.

Historical fiction, as a contemporary Western literary genre, has its foundations in the early 19th century works of Sir Walter Scott and his contemporaries in other national literatures such as Frenchman Honoré de Balzac, American James Fenimore Cooper, and later Russian Leo Tolstoy. However, the melding of “historical” and “fiction” in individual works of literature has a long tradition in most cultures; both western traditions (as early as Ancient Greek and Roman literature) as well as Eastern, in the form of oral and folk traditions (see mythology and folklore), which produced epics, novels, plays and other fictional works describing history for contemporary audiences.


Top Ten Historical Titles To Encourage A Diverse Understanding Of The Past

7 Great Works of Diverse Historical Fiction (teen)

Read Diverse Books tag: Historical Fiction

Notes from our session:

Readers’ Advisory Round Table Western Mass
Diversity in Historical Fiction
5 June 2018
Jones Library, Amherst

In attendance: Molly, Jess, Lizzie, Lyndsay, Pamela, Alene, Anna, Linda, Jan, Heather, Betty

MLA: ethics issues; Timothy Snyder: Road to Unfreedom, On Tyrrany; Steve Woolfolk of  Kansas City
BookExpo: 40 authors, 41 talks in one day! (Walter Mosley x2)

Historical fiction – Diversity
Set in the past before the author’s lifetime or experience
“brings history to life”

Second Titles
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin talley
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
The Magnificent Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp
Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn
The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (epistolary!)
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
Kindred by Octavia Butler
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
Breathless by Beverly Jenkins
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

Code Switch: From Mourning to ‘Moonlight’: A Year In Race, As Told By Code Switch
Code Switch episode: Hold Up! Time for an Explanatory Comma


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