Education About Asia: Online Archives

Asian Fiction of the Twentieth Century: A Novel Approach to History

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By Andrea Caron Kempf

History viewed through the lens or fiction can enhance a standard textbook, making the subject more immediate and compelling to students. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students who read a novel in conjunction with a history class become more engaged with the subject. Both the grand themes of a work of fiction and its quotidian details inform and educate, remai1ning with a reader long after the novel or the course in which it was assigned is completed. The cataclysmic events of the twentieth century- world wars, regional wars, the end of colonial rule, emigration of large populations, national, ethnic and religious movements, communism- all of these convulsed Asia; and all of these events are dramatically presented in fiction. Here are a few examples: