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  • Writer's pictureTrish Perry

When Fiction Needs Better Facts

Updated: Mar 2

woman reading on couch

Have you ever come across something in a novel or film that was presented as if it were real life, but you had your doubts?

I recently read The Henna Artist (a secular novel), set in Jaiper, India, in the 1950s. There was very little about the lifestyle, behaviors, or belief system with which I could identify—as a Christian I thought many aspects of that world were very sad, especially the attitude about the sanctity of life. But I thought the novel was well written and intriguing.

Afterwards, though, I read a number of reviews by readers who were from other parts of India, and they discounted much of the story as being written simply to charm western readers who imagine India as “exotic.” That stance gave me pause. I do love fiction, but if it isn’t based on better facts, I want to know that ahead of time, don’t you? The jury’s still out for me on this particular book. The naysayers were, as I said, from different regions of India, so their word isn’t necessarily final.

Maybe some of you read The Red Tent years ago. Anyone who studied the Bible could tell that the author took a lot of poetic license with the story of Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. Once I recognized how “off” the author was with the Biblical truth, I wasn’t able to believe much else about the story, because it was presented as if it were based on fact.

How about you?

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