Dancing Girls Rehearsing – Photo Copyright Lausanne Davis Carpenter
I thought I would start some regional reading lists for our ready reference.
Since Central Asia has long been my personal fascination I will start there.
Here’s what I have found thus far:
Historical Fiction set in Central Asia by Asians:
Chingiz Aitmatov’s name rises to the top of any search. Aitmatov wrote in both Russian and Kirghiz. Many of his works are out of print but several are available on Amazon. Prices range from $0.01-$400.00.
White Steamship, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (August 14, 1972). ISBN 978-0-340-15996-5 (Soviet Era Kyrgyzstan)
The White Ship, Crown Publishing Group; 1st Edition (November 1972). ISBN 978-0-517-50074-3
Tales of the Mountains and the Steppes, Firebird Pubns; Second Printing edition (June 1973). ISBN 978-0-8285-0937-4 (Soviet Era)
Ascent of Mount Fuji, Noonday Press (June 1975). ISBN 978-0-374-51215-6 (Soviet Era)
Cranes Fly Early, Imported Pubn (June 1983). ISBN 978-0-8285-2639-5
The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years, Indiana University Press (February 1, 1988). ISBN 978-0-253-20482-0 (Soviet Era Kazakhstan)
The Place of the Skull, Grove Pr; 1st edition (March 1989). ISBN 978-0-8021-1000-8
The Place of the Skull: Novel, International Academy of Sciences, Industry, Education & Arts (USA) (2000). ISBN 978-5-7261-0062-3
Time to Speak, International Publishers (May 1989). ISBN 978-0-7178-0669-0 The time to speak out (Library of Russian and Soviet literary journalism), Progress Publishers (1988). ISBN 978-5-01-000495-8 (Genre unclear)
Mother Earth and Other Stories, Faber and Faber (January 8, 1990). ISBN 978-0-571-15237-7 (Soviet Era Kyrgyzstan)
Jamila, Telegram Books (January 1, 2008). ISBN 978-1-84659-032-0 (World War II,Caucasus)
The Blue Sky: (translation in print from Der blaue Himmel, 1994)- Galsin Tschinag. (1940s Communist Mongolia).
Tschinag was from the Altai mountains of western Mongolia and wrote in German.
Wolf Totem – Rong Jiang (pseudomnym for Lu Jiamin) A bestseller in China, the story takes place in Mongolia – multiple periods.
The Railway– Set in 1900-1980 Uzbekistan by Uzbek writer: Hamid Ismailov
Of course Khaled Hosseini’s three novels set in Afghanistan (Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and, most recently, And the Mountains Echoed) are not to be missed even though they are set in the current milieu.
Central Asian Historical Fiction by Non-Central Asians:
I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade – Diane Wilson (YA) (14th Century China)
The Conqueror Series (Five book saga of Ghengis Khan/Kublai Khan – 12th Century) – Conn Iggulden
Kim – Rudyard Kipling. Set during the Great Game as British India and Russia vied for control of Central Asia.
The web site states: “This year’s festival, which will take place in London, UK, to awaken the interest of the English reader to read the Central Asian literature translated into English, will also attract the public’s attention to the development of the publishing industry, as well as the publishers themselves to the potential of the Central Asian literature in the world market. The event will be attended by as many recognized in his home country of authors, including Hamid Ismailov and Casati Akamatova and British authors with works devoted to Central Asia.”
Unfortunately, I can’t find anywhere on the site which provides descriptions of works translated to English so I am not able to glean potential reading lists.
If anyone out there knows where to find this information, or happens to be at the festival, please let me know if there is any historical fiction we should know about.
Following that lead by googling Silk Road Media takes you to silkpress.com which mentions their recent publication of Christopher Marlowe’s play Tamburlaine the Great into Uzbek – the language of the protagonist. Who knew? That’s definitely going on my TBR list – the English edition, of course. My Uzbek is rusty.
Please let me know if you have anything to add to this list!
Ah, another tome to add to the stack. I just purchased Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies a few days ago but am currently reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Devil’s Brood, so I’ll be while yet. I’d love to hear about it from anyone who gets to it before I do.
Yesterday I received the latest edition of the Historical Novel Review – the quarterly magazine published by the Historical Novel Society. I am always anxious to see the reviews of new historical fiction and note which ones need to be added to my To Be Read list. In this round, I found 28 books under the printed reviews which fit our Long Ago & Far Away focus. For easy reference I am posting a list of those books here.
Three books under “Biblical” fit LAFA’s (Long Ago & Far Away) loose parameters, but since this period/location gets a lot of attention, I will skip them for this compilation. There are seven in the “Classical” category, six of which take place in either Rome or Greece, again, not really off the beaten path. I did include one from the classical period because it takes place in Turkey – a bit out of the way. I’m also skipping crusader stories since the context is already popular. I have included one from that period due to it’s Spanish setting being less familiar.
The Last King of Lydia – Tim Leach – Lydia (in present day Turkey) – 6th century BC
1200 year gap!
The Secret History – Stephanie Thornton – Byzantium – 6th century AD
600 year gap!
The Corpse Reader – Antonio Garrido (trans. Thomas Bunstead) – China – 13th century
Emeralds of The Alhambra – John D. Cressler – Granada – 14th century
200 year gap!
Claws of the Cat – Susan Spann – Japan – 16th century
200 year gap. (Is this like contractions?)
The Pagoda Tree – Claire Scobie – India – 18th century
The Devil is White – William Palmer – Africa – 18th Century
And now, the 19th century:
The Corsair – Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud (trans. Amira Noweira) – Bombay, Oman, Iraq and China – 19th century
The Scarlet Thief – Paul Fraser Collard – Crimea – 19th century
Kiku’s Prayer– Shusaku Endo (trans. Van C. Gessel) – Japan – 19th century
The Prisoner of Paradise – Romesh Guneskera – Mauritius – 19th century
Burial Rites – Hannah Kent – Iceland – 19th Century
The Collector of Lost Things – Jeremy Page – Arctic – 19th century
The Family Mansion – Anthony C. Winkler – Jamaica – 19th century
Blood Tango – Annamaria Alfieri – Argentina – 1945
The Roving Tree – Elsie Augustave – Haiti/Zaire – 1950s
Mystery in Malakand – Susanna Bell – Peshawar/Northwest Frontier/British India – 1920
Midnight in St. Petersburg – Vanora Bennett – Revolutionary Russia
Shadows on the Nile – Kate Furnivall – Egypt – 1932
The Gunners of Shenyang – Yu Jihui – China – 1960s
The Man From Berlin– Luke McCallin – Yugoslavia – 1943
The Bride Box – Michael Pearce – Egypt – 1913
The Child Thief – Dan Smith – Unkraine – 1930
Ben Barka Lane – Mahmoud Saeed (trans. Kay Heikkinen) Morroco – 1964 (originally published in Arabic in 1970, so fits only the loosest definition of historical fiction but it is definitely LAFA to most of us.
A Question of Honor – Charles Todd – India/England/France – early 1900s
Lighthouse Bay– Kimberley Freeman – Australia
The Age of Ice – J.M. Sidorova – Russia
The Ghost Bride – Yangze Choo – Malaysia
Exciting reading ahead! Which of these interest you the most?
There are additional reviews online (294 in total!). I will peruse those as soon as I am able. There are also YA and Children’s books reviewed both in the printed mag and online. If someone else would like to glean LAFA books from these before I have the chance, just let me know and we’ll get them posted.
I just sat down with my morning tea, planning to review the Man Booker Prize for nominees from long ago and far away setting but Kate Braithwaite over at the Historical Novel Society beat me to it. She found that six of the thirteen nominees are historical fiction! Yes!
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin, I assume, takes place in 1st century Palestine which places it in a time/place nearly as popular as the US and Western Europe. (The Near East spikes again at the Crusades.)
And, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri is set in India during the Vietnam War. I confess I’m having a hard time labeling the Vietnam War historical fiction. Nothing that happened during my lifetime should qualify. But if that’s far enough back for you – then we’ll call it Long Ago and Far Away.
Mr Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia and splits his time between Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town, South Africa. His debut novel The Gift of Rain was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The Garden of Evening Mists was shortlisted for the same. That’s an impressive start to a writing career.
Score a major victory for books written of Long Ago and Far Away!
And this one just leapt to the top of my To Be Read pile. I spent four years right across the Malacca Straits in Sumatra. In fact, the outline of my novel was birthed while on a much needed vacation in the Cameron Highlands. I can’t wait to read this!
Venue for the Historical Novel Society’s 2013 Conference, The Vinoy, St. Petersburg, FL
This summer I attended my first Historical Novel Society conference. The speakers and breakout sessions were great, the food was perfect, the venue stunning, but the best by far was each writer’s excitement for their projects – eyes lit up and hands in motion.
Most historical fiction is set in the United States or Western Europe but there are writers compelled to explore more obscure times and places. These are the people I gravitated towards – since I am doing the same. We have to build entire worlds using fragmented and vague historical records; often extrapolating based on resources from the nearest time or place even if hundreds of years or miles off our mark. All the while we know there is some specialist historian out there who will catch us out in some small (or large!) detail. Could anything be more daunting? Or exhilarating?
The three hour drive home allowed my brain to process a dozen fortuitous conversations. By the time I reached my door, this blog seemed the obvious response to my 48 hour conference experience.
Numerous blogs focus on general historical fiction and some have specific time/place specialties but I want this one to be a hub for readers and writers of historical fiction outside the usual settings. I hope to include the following:
Interviews with writers
News and observations relevant to our niche
A repository of resources, thought and discussion particular to writing about the Long Ago and Far Away.
I have discussed my vision with several other writers who are going off the beaten path and am looking forward to their involvement. One new friend is a writer of historical mysteries: Annamaria Alfieri. She is in the throws of launching her new book, Blood Tango. When she comes up for air I hope she will be the first interviewee for the site.
I hope you will visit often and join us on our journey to Long Ago and Far Away!
Hotel Provisions for the Conference And good for any other journey!