Thursday, May 3, 2012
May 3, 2012: Great Historical Fiction, Part 3
[Third in the week’s series on great American historical fiction! Nominations, feedback, and other responses very welcome as always!]
Today’s nominee for an amazing American historical novel is Russell Banks’s
I’ll admit it, for a long time I hated Banks’ novel; not because of anything really about it, but because my fallback plan had always been to write a historical novel about John Brown from the point of view of one of his sons, and then Banks went ahead and did that and did it amazingly well. But you can only hold onto your hate for so long before you realize that an amazing historical novel about fathers and sons, family and nation, violence and spirituality, the coming of the Civil War, and heroism and villainy in American identity is worth celebrating. Even if it did crush your dreams a bit.
Next nominee tomorrow,
PS. Any novelists or novels you’d highlight?5/3 Memory Day nominee: Jacob Riis, who remains, more than a century later, one of the most complex and important voices to engage with American poverty in our history.