March is Women’s History Month, celebrated worldwide. In the past two years, I’ve taken a look at history in Britain and history in the US. At the time, I didn’t view this as a series of posts, but I admit that I love learning about history, especially through the eyes of women. So this year, I’m taking a look at history through the eyes of Asian women.
Ancient World to 1099: Major Events Include
Paper was invented, Buddhism emerged, advances in math (zero and decimals), oldest book was produced, paper money was invented by the Chinese Government, Chinese use gunpowder in warfare, Nam-Viet ruled for more than 1000 years by the Han Dynasty in China, Silk Road, Alexander the Great reaches India, India and the Roman empire trade, Hinduism emerges, Constantine founds New Rome, Ottoman Empire begins, and Great Wall of China was constructed.
Books Include: Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner: A shamaness predicts great things for Himiko, the daughter of a chieftain, who will one day rule Japan using her strength and her love for her people.
Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey: A retelling of the tale of Mulan – the girl who took her father’s place in the army in disguise.
Historical fiction can be a deceptively complex genre to define. It would seem initially that any fiction set in the past might be considered historical fiction but as we examine this basic distinction, it becomes significantly less simple. After all, how far into the past does a novel need to be set to be considered historical rather than contemporary realistic fiction? Do we use a specific range of years? Do we consider the likely cultural memory and lived experiences of the intended audience? For the purposes of this guide, I’ve decided to define historical fiction as a novel set in the past in which the particular realities of that time and place play a significant role in the narrative.
The genre of historical fiction is vast and varied. The idea of compiling a definitive genre guide is fairly daunting so I chose a focus: “off the beaten path” historical fiction–novels set in the past that feature perspectives, places, time periods, or events frequently unexplored in both the average history class curriculum and historical fiction.
These novels expand the genre beyond the ‘white people in interesting clothing’ approach that can dominate the historical fiction shelves. In the process of creating history, many voices have been silenced, forgotten, or shoved aside. Good historical fiction–like all good fiction–weaves an absorbing story with complex characters, providing us with an opportunity to counteract simplified or biased versions of history. Through fiction, readers can look at well-known events from a new perspective, immerse themselves in unfamiliar cultures, or see an exploration of their heritage.