“Do you think something like this counts as historical fiction? Someone called a book about the Gulf War ‘historical fiction’ recently and I was thinking, but it’s so recent, does it count? And I was thinking that maybe the rule is, If it’s set in the quite recent past it doesn’t have to be historical fiction (like Eleanor and Park), but if it’s centered around historical events in the recent past (like this one is), then it counts. Maybe?”
I had to think about this for a little while, but I ended up coming up with two characteristics that tend to go hand in hand when I’m trying to figure out if I consider a book to be historical fiction (which is actually something I do – it’s a tag in my reading tracking sheet). For me, the book needs to take place in a historically significant time or place and that time/place needs to play a large role in the plot of the novel. I’m still not really sure where I fall when it comes to recent events, but I’m leaning toward thinking that if the event is important enough to be considered historically significant (the Gulf War is already in history books), then I might consider it.
So, when it comes to All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, I would mark it historical fiction because so much of the plot revolves around the explosion at the Chernobyl plant. Although Eleanor & Park takes place around the same time, it doesn’t focus on a significant aspect of that time period and I don’t think it plays a large role in the plot.
But what do you think?
- What are some characteristics you think a book must have for it to be considered historical fiction?
- How far in the past is old enough to count as historical fiction?
- Can you think of books set in historical time periods (maybe some from the graphic – there are a few I’m going back and forth over) that you would/wouldn’t classify as historical fiction? Why?