Home 5 Articles and Reports 5 Why Should Fiction be Used in Writing Historical Works?

Why Should Fiction be Used in Writing Historical Works?

by | Nov 12, 2020 | Articles and Reports, News

How much literary freedom can writers of historical fiction exercise while presenting their perception of events from history in their novels? This was the subject of a virtual session titled ‘Writing Historical Novels’, hosted at the ongoing 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

Emirati novelist Fatima Al Mazrouei, and French historian Gilbert Sinoué, shed light on this and several related issues at the session moderated by Safia Al Shehi. Both participants agreed that authors are amply challenged in reinterpreting historical events and personalities in works of fiction. They have to think of innovative and creative solutions to avoid misrepresenting events or distorting facts while penning a historical novel.

Fatima Al Mazrouei stressed that many people confuse writers of historical fiction with historians. She noted that historians record historical events after verifying established facts through reliable sources and documents. On the other hand, writers of historical fiction weave historical facts into a compelling narrative based on their own perceptions, depending on the plot, setting and characters.

“Authors must ensure that established facts and events are not distorted,” she remarked, adding: “they should investigate and research the historical facts the book is based on, ensuring there are no mistakes or distortion of the events described.”

The Emirati novelist further said that an author of a work of fiction can let loose their imagination, unlike the writers of historical fiction who cannot play fast and loose with historical facts. She pointed out that while readers in general are attracted to historical fiction, most authors avoid writing historical novels because of the restrictions of the genre.

For his part, Gilbert Sinoué reiterated that the difficulty in writing historical novels stemmed from the fact that it entailed striking a balance between documented history and the author’s perception of it. He also noted that the amount of research involved can overwhelm the author, and that can reflect on the authenticity of the work.

Sinoué emphasised that authors had the freedom to put words into the mouth of historical characters as long as they stayed true to the nature of their persona.

Speaking about what led him to write about the life of the Father of the Nation, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sinoué said he had learned about Sheikh Zayed when visited the UAE 15 years ago as the guest of honour at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Back in France, he started researching about the UAE and Sheikh Zayed. He ended up writing Le Faucon (The Falcon), a novel in which the story is narrated by Sheikh Zayed.

The historical novelist highlighted the significance of objectivity and neutrality in writing. “Writers should not project their personal views in a novel based on historical facts, especially if they are biographies. Both historical novelists and historians can ask the eternal question ‘why’. Why did that happen? Why did he/she say that? That can be the beginning of a dialogue with the reader.”

Recent News

22Feb
YS Chi Wins 2024 Book Fair Lifetime Award

YS Chi Wins 2024 Book Fair Lifetime Award

YoungSuk “YS” Chi, Chairman of Elsevier and the Association of American Publishers, has been announced as the recipient of the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award by the London Book Fair.   This prestigious award acknowledges individuals who have made a significant impact on the global book industry. It is open to professionals such as publishers, agents, […]

21Feb
Muscat Book Fair: Global Stories, Local Spotlight

Muscat Book Fair: Global Stories, Local Spotlight

The 28th installment of the Muscat International Book Fair commenced on February 21 at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, featuring an extensive assortment of over 600,000 titles from 34 countries. This year’s focal point was on Palestine, exploring various facets of the crisis, while the overarching theme revolved around artificial intelligence, encompassing numerous events […]

21Feb
Booksellers Call for Gaza Ceasefire

Booksellers Call for Gaza Ceasefire

There were calls for the American Booksellers Association (ABA) to address the situation in Gaza at the organisation’s annual Winters’s Institute meeting, this year held in Cincinnati. At various sessions, booksellers voiced their frustration that the body has, so far, not backed calls for a ceasefire.  One member, identifying as “a Jewish person for Palestine,” […]

Related Posts

Bookstores’ role in today’s Enlightenment

Bookstores’ role in today’s Enlightenment

Bookstores, and in particular independent bookstores, play a role similar to that of coffee shops during the European Enlightenment – that is the interesting view of Connecticut English professor Rick Magee's writing in CT Insider.   He writes: ‘One of the driving...

YS Chi Wins 2024 Book Fair Lifetime Award

YS Chi Wins 2024 Book Fair Lifetime Award

YoungSuk "YS" Chi, Chairman of Elsevier and the Association of American Publishers, has been announced as the recipient of the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award by the London Book Fair.   This prestigious award acknowledges individuals who have made a significant impact...

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota – Book Review

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota – Book Review

China Room is a tale of injustice that narrates the story of an alienated youth who travels to remote rural India, where his great-grandmother lived in 1929, at 18, he is in the throes of heroin addiction. His account of a summer spent in rural Punjab is interspersed...

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this

Pin It on Pinterest