Can a Novel Be “More True” than a Work of Nonfiction?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

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By Edward Nawotka

By now, it’s well known that memory — in particular as exercised by lying memoirists and some easily misled nonfiction writers — is fallible.

What’s more, in today’s lead editorial by Shira Nayman, the novelist and psychologist notes that “remembering always involves dark patches of obscuring; it is, in its essence, a kind of personal chiaroscuro — the illuminated spots of recalled happenings, feelings, events, combining with the shadowy bits of the forgotten into a distinctive pattern that is uniquely our own. For all of us, a healthy orientation towards the past involves a delicate balance between remembering and forgetting, with subtle and ongoing adjustments.”

This ultimately suggests, at least to me, that a work of fiction can be “more true” than a work of nonfiction. Do you agree?

Read Nayman’s editorial and let us know what you think in the comments. And, if it comes to mind, please offer some examples from your own reading life where you feel fiction has captured the essence of something better than a nonfiction account.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.