TTT: Historical Settings You Love (Or Would Like To See)

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by the brilliant folks at The Broke and the Bookish. Today: Historical Settings You Love (Or Would Like To See).

Steph

  1. Israel. Because I’ve been there a few times for both vacation and family and it is a beautiful country full of history, mythology, age-old wars and untold secrets. Sure, there is danger too, but that need not be the focus or, perhaps, it could be? Either way, I think this could be a great setting and the story need not necessarily be religious (for instance Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc brings us to Petra on a fantastic adventure, and warring religious factions play a part but aren’t centre-stage).
  2. The Prairies of Canada. Because I love the prairies and I love to write about them and to read about them. Check out  Dust by Arthur Slade. Fantastic (literally)! I want more.
  3. The Antarctic would be a really cool (haha) setting to see in a book for young people. Perhaps something that follows the footsteps of Shackleton’s exploration/discovery of the southernmost landmass? It’s just such a vast space, a desert really, but as much as it appears like a dead zone there is so much there that is alive and thriving . . .
  4. Denmark. Because I’ve also been here and I just haven’t see this awesome country featured in anything but Hamlet and Hamlet retellings! Copenhagen is such a cool city with a rich history rife with royalty and intrigue (a King Charles who enjoyed having pictures of himself on horseback painted), with a walled in part of the city (Tivoli gardens!) with a world famous Zoo–there’s just so much here!
  5. Space. :) Because it’s Space. There are lots of books out there, but there could be more–there is so much potential here!

Yash

I honestly have one, and only one, hope: that I get to read YA/MG set in pre-colonized South Asia. And if the place happens to be India (or a kingdom in the Indian subcontinent), I’d like one that isn’t all bleak and about forced marriages and, “look how unhappy Indian women used to be”*. Look at the variety of literature (classic and contemporary) that’s set in Regency era England or Victorian England–not all of it is about social issues and if it is, it isn’t what the entire novel is about. That’s what I’d like to see, but in a South Asian country/kingdom.

Sorry I don’t have a proper list!

*That said, research and sources are definitely a plus!

Nafiza

Here are the places I’d like to see some stories set in:

  1. Fiji. Historical or modern, I don’t care. Just give me something. Anything.
  2. South Korea. And a well done story that doesn’t mock the people and the culture.
  3. Palestine. Because their plight is close to my heart and I’d like to see a story that lets me see them as more than how the media portrays them.
  4. India/Pakistan. And like Yash, I want to see a story that isn’t about the oppression of women from a western perspective.
  5. Saudi Arabia. I just want something more like Alif the Unseen.

Janet

  1. Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and surrounding region. Modern, because that’s super important (and also interesting), and historically – there are thousands of years of really fascinating history & culture & development of thought/belief/religion here* which tend to be lumped together and more or less forgotten, I guess because nobody built pyramids. And by history, I do mean all of history, from semi-nomadic tribes to city-states to semi-unified nations conquered and re-conquered by the superpowers of the century (usually Assyria and successor states vs. Egypt, with brief bursts of semi-independence in between), to later empires and dominant cultures (Greece and Rome) and tragedies, and later powers (Western European nations)… to the present day. Or, heck, the future. Has anyone ever written a futuristic or sci-fi novel set here and focused on local characters? (American or British thrillers/spy novels featuring Americans and Brits do not count.) If so, please let me know.
  2. I’m still a sucker for historical Britain. Maybe because I know the history a bit more? (Or maybe I know the history because I’ve read so many historical novels.) Kinda done with the Victorian era. Not anywhere near over the 1100s-1400s.
  3. China in the 1800s to early 1900s. This is because of all the Laurence Yep I read in elementary school. (Boxers and Saints, I cannot wait.)
  4. Canada. All of Canada, every century. There is not nearly enough good Canadian historical fiction, and a general dearth of Canadian historical fiction for readers older than twelve. More, please! First Nations stories, early (French) traders’ adventures, European settlers’ mishaps, successive waves of immigrants, everything between, during, and since – I want it all.
  5. Historical seeings I’d like to see – anything I haven’t read yet. So, pretty much anything involving South and Central America and large swaths of Asia. There isn’t nearly enough in my library about the many African civilizations (aside from Egypt – what child doesn’t plan to be an Egyptologist at some point?) and peoples, despite the power and influence of, say, Kush and Akkad, so that needs to be remedied. More from South Asia, as Yash and Nafiza have said. Oh, and also the neglected European countries and cities, like Prague. But that’s partly because I hear the music is very good there.
  6. So, if there are writers reading this – more historical fiction, please? *charming grin*

*And, okay, everywhere.

17 responses to “TTT: Historical Settings You Love (Or Would Like To See)

  1. One of my favorite settings is Thomas Burnett Swann’s take on Mediterranean antiquity (Etruria, Phoenicia, Israel, Africa, Rome); his stories all take place in a meticulously crafted fairy-tale version of the ancient world in which all of the myths are true. Centaurs, Satyrs and Sprites trade in the Etruscan market places, Herodotus’ Myrmidons were literally ant-men, Stirges and Harpies are a nuisance to the traveler, and Proserpine still frolics with the corn sprites when she can escape Hades. He was also one of the most prominent and successful writers of what would now be considered LGBT fantasy, though at the time, I think he was just really fascinated by exploring the different sorts of love that had once been so prominent in myths and poetry of the ancients.

    • Sounds fascinating! Another author added to my “to be investigated” list :)
      The northern African civilizations, or reaching further down? That would be awesomely complex. You mentioned Rome but not Greece – is this in reference to the versions of the myths Swann preferred, or to the time period?

      • I’ve only read a few of his books now, but they take place over a wide-ranging time period.

        Though the Greeks are present, I’ve not yet read any of his books that specifically take place in Greece. The closest would be The Green Phoenix, which is about Aeneas and his son who have just arrived in Italy.

        The further into Africa characters from Swann’s stories go, however, the closer Africa becomes to the mythical greek perception of it, for better or worse, for, as I said, assumes a primarily Greek mythological cosmology and taxonomy.

  2. I recently read In The Kingdom of Ice, which was a terrible, sad, but also beautiful story about attempts to reach the North Pole. Fascinating, but it made me need a blanket!

  3. Most Canadian historical fiction of note seems to be “read about this priest and/or early settler as something happens and he gets stranded somewhere alone in the Rugged North (TM), everything is a metaphor,” or “read about fishing/farming, now with added sadness” or along those lines. (Or maybe my view is skewed…)

    I do remember reading some of the “Dear Canada” books, which are Middle Grade. Some of them were pretty fantastic (especially the one about The Spanish Influenza).

    But that aside, definitely yes to more varied and diverse fiction set in Canada!

    • Wow, how did I miss the priest stories, and what are they? I do recall a lot of middle grade books with the storyline of Boy Gets Lost In The Wild And Miraculously Survives. (Which I enjoyed. But. That is a very limited portion of the possible stories about people in Canada.)

      Have you read Diana Wynne Jones’s Tough Guide to Fantasyland? I think you’d find it funny – your Rugged North (TM) would be perfect for a Can lit version:)

      • It’s possible that the priest part was just in my head. I think it came from reading a review in the newspaper or something… or at a book event? (Which are few and far between in Canada).

        The only Diana Wynne Jones I’ve read it Howl’s Moving Castle (loved it!) but that sounds like it might be worth checking out! I’m not quite sure where the Rugged North (TM) thing came from, except that so many Canadian history novels seem to be of the “man vs. wild” plotline. Where the “wild” is probably a metaphor.

        • We do need more bookish events. I thought Ontario had more than BC? Or maybe that’s just an assumption based on the comparative number of publishing houses.

          • I think Ontario is the hotspot for book events in Canada (mostly in Toronto- okay, entirely in Toronto), but there are generally still very few events. There definitely isn’t much on the large-scale, though. A couple author signings, one or two book tours. Book Blog Ontario organises a blogger meetup.

            I just find it sort of amusing that there are more book events in Texas each year than there are in the entirety of Canada.

            • *sigh* Even taking into account the relative populations of Texas and Canada, I’d bet we still have fewer events. And fewer funds, and fewer authors (certainly fewer rewards for authors)… Darn these nasty self-reinforcing downward spirals. So. We just need to become really famous book bloggers and make lots of bookish events happen, right?

              • Probably. It’s true that we probably are in some weird sort of downward spiral. I think a part of it is that a lot of the major publishing houses are based in the States, too. They have Canadian offices, but they are first and foremost American companies, so the focus is centred there.

                … I’ll get back to you on the becoming famous thing. It seems like it would be complicated…

  4. Totally agree with you, Nafiza – we need more books set in Palestine, written by Palestinians (or from the surrounding areas) who can share their stories, instead of the typically Western perspective. I recently read Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa, which was one of the best books I’ve read. Have you heard of it? It’s a book I’d recommend to all.
    Yash – I know this post is about books you’d like to read, but could you recommend some South Asian fiction you’ve already enjoyed, please?! :-D thank you in advance!

        • So, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading many books–YA or otherwise–set in South Asia. Of the handful I have read, the ones I thought were good included The Missing Queen, Q&A, and Shantaram. (None of these are Kid Lit titles, BTW. Well, maybe Q&A. I read that in high school, but I think the film adaptation may have clouded my memory of the book, so I don’t remember if it was suitable for teen readers or not.) As for writers, I am going to go with a list that includes people of South Asian descent but who may not reside in South Asia: Tanuja Desai Hidier, Samhita Arni, Rupi Kaur, Sunil Patel, Sabaa Tahir, Mindy Kaling, Sona Charaipotra, and N. H. Senzai. And what the hell, I’m gonna include Ruskin Bond too. He’s certainly lived in India long enough. It’s an unsatisfactory list, I know, but it’s what I have for now. Sorry. I think this year I will try to prioritize books set anywhere but North America (minus Mexico) and Europe. :/

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