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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009 8:38 am
Historical Fiction: Genre Less Important Than Story?
Posted by: Keir Graff

Responding to my historical fiction query, Carol Kubala, a librarian in Connecticut, writes:

I believe historical fiction will always have an audience. Whether it’s hot or not, I’m not certain. Many of the books on Booklist‘s Top 10 Historical Fiction are getting high circ in our library. I truly don’t know if our readers are seeking these out because they are looking for historical fiction or because they sound like something they’d like to read or it’s been recommended by someone they know. Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day is a good example. Most reviewers call The Given Day a direct departure from his previous books. I don’t think the line is as taut as that. Though The Given Day has historical appeal, it is also a thrilling, fast paced read. Throw in the romance and his superior writing style, as evidenced in all his books, and is The Given Day really such a departure for the author? It’s what I’m expecting from him and so, historical or not, I’m going to read it. I think of books like these as genre blurring, something like crossover music, not strictly one genre, but books with wide appeal. Our readers seem to want a good, well written story, no matter the genre.

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