“The job of the fiction writer is to invoke verisimilitude. Real and factual research helps, of course, but the purpose should be emotional. The more abstract truth comes from the deeper meanings of stories, factual or not. The factuality of this truth is usually taken for granted, and the primary sources need not speak for themselves, even if they want to.” Little Histories
Here’s my essay on a Russian and English reading of Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin, twice winner of the Russian Big Book Prize (sounds better in Russian).
“In Maidenhair, the haunting trauma of a Russian background, exotic to most Americans, shapes characters’ lives, whether they are victims or perpetrators of violence. In contrast, Westerners in the novel make naïve attempt to “have” such experiences. Despite the suffering depicted in it, through this juxtaposition of cynicism and naïveté, experience and innocence, Maidenhair achieves a poignant beauty.”