Verus: Latin for true, real.
Fiction is by its definition unreal, the imagination of the author. Yet, fiction is based on reality, it represents a part of The Truth.
In Stranger or Friend, I kept the plot rooted in reality, the feeling as close to my memories of small-town Wyoming as possible.
But, does fiction have to feel real? Moreover, how important is accuracy in historical fiction?
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction is Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. I haven’t read the book yet, but this accolade sent me to Amazon, where I found over 500 one-star reviews.
I usually dismiss the one-stars as vindictive, perhaps because if a book were that bad where I couldn’t give it any other rating, I would not review it. Just a personal thing.
Sure, there were some ridiculous comments, like: the book never arrived. Is that the author’s fault? Semi-biased as I am, I found the prose I read in the Look Inside feature absolutely gorgeous.
But as I read on, a theme began to emerge. Many reviewers pointed out glaring errors in historical data the author used in the book, such as mentioning the use of the bombing of Paris during WWII as a backdrop for the characters to escape the city.
Paris was not bombed in WWII.
We know the French government surrendered, the city was not bombed by the Nazis, the Allies recognized its cultural significance, and yet more politics were involved. But, no bombing.
This will not keep me from reading the book, but I’m puzzled by the gaps in historical data, especially when it comes to one of the most important events in modern history.
Again, I haven’t read the book. If you have, please let me know your thoughts on it. But, in the mean time, tell me this: is accuracy in fiction — especially historical fiction — of any importance?