Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists

Author(s): Michael Lackey

Literary theory

In this new collection of interviews, some of America's most prominent novelists identify the key intellectual developments that led to the rise of the contemporary biographical novel, discuss the kind of historical 'truth' this novel communicates, indicate why this narrative form is superior to the traditional historical novel, and reflect on the ideas and characters central to their individual works. These interviews do more than just define an innovative genre of contemporary fiction. They provide a precise way of understanding the complicated relationship and pregnant tensions between contextualized thinking and historical representation, interdisciplinary studies and 'truth' production, and fictional reality and factual constructions. By focusing on classical and contemporary debates regarding the nature of the historical novel, this volume charts the forces that gave birth to a new incarnation of this genre.


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Interviews with the most prominent Americans who are currently writing biographical novels.

Michael Lackey's probing questions prompt illuminating responses from some of America's most prominent contemporary authors who have contributed to the popularity of biographical novels. These interviews give us full access to the authors' complex, multifarious, and tortuous creative processes, offering insights into the challenges they faced and their writing strategies when negotiating fact and fiction. -- Monica Latham, Senior Lecturer in British Literature, University of Lorraine in Nancy, France In this compelling collection of dialogues, many of our most thoughtful writers peer into the fog-bound realm of historical fiction, where wisps of fact are conjured into billowing clouds of meaning. With candor, wit, and penetrating insights, these fine magicians show that their conjurations are somehow real. Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History, Barnard College, USA, and author of Novel History

Michael Lackey is Associate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota, USA. He is the author of The Modernist God State: A Literary Study of the Nazis' Christian Reich (2012), and African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Faith, which won the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title in 2008. He is also the editor of The Haverford Discussions: A Black Integrationist Manifesto for Racial Justice (2013).

Contents Acknowledgments Introduction: The Rise of the American Biographical Novel, Michael Lackey Interviews: 1. Julia Alvarez: Fixed Facts and Creative Freedom in the Biographical Novel 2. Russell Banks: The Truth Contract in the Biographical Novel 3. Madison Smartt Bell: Big Revolutionary Bangs in the Biographical Novel 4. M. Allen Cunningham: Building the Imaginative Record with the Biographical Novel 5. Michael Cunningham: The Biographical Novel and the Complexity of Postmodern Interiors 6. Anita Diamant: Imagining a Matrilineal History in the Biographical Novel 7. Bruce Duffy: In the Fog of the Biographical Novel's History 8. Ron Hansen: Sensualizing and Contextualizing Historical 'Truth' in the Biographical Novel 9. Sherry Jones: The Art of Claiming Power in the Biographical Novel 10. Rebecca Kanner: Feminist Naming in the Biographical Novel 11. Kate Moses: Re-Composing a Life in the Biographical Novel 12. Joyce Carol Oates: Enhanced Symbolic Interiors in the Biographical Novel 13. Lance Olsen: The Biographical Novel's Practice of Not-Knowing 14. Jay Parini: Reflections on Biographical Fiction 15. Joanna Scott: The Masking Art of the Biographical Novel 16. Edmund White: Gay Interiors and the Biographical Novel Contributors Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781623568252
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • : March 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Michael Lackey
  • : Paperback
  • : 280