The nature of the beast

Posted by on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 - 5:07 PM

The New York Times Book Review called Zeitounthe stuff of great narrative nonfiction.

Booklist magazine explains "Narrative nonfiction is the new name for what used to be called the nonfiction novel ...”

Narrative nonfiction is sometimes alternately called creative nonfiction. It is not a new literary form—some credit Daniel DeFoe with its “invention” in the 18th century—but it grew immensely in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century.

In his book Creative Nonfiction, author Lee Gutkind offers this recipe:

“Creative Nonfiction may include dramatized biography, compilations of articles and essays and book-length memoirs ... CNF includes such fiction techniques as dialogue, description, point of view and character development.”

If what you liked about Zeitoun—over and above the story of this extraordinary family and the disasters that befall them—is the basic narrative nonfiction style, here are some excellent examples of the genre from over the years to read or re-read:

Hiroshima by John Hersey (1946)

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (1979)

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (1996)

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (1998)

A Vast Conspiracy by Jeffrey Toobin (2000)

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (2003)

The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea (2004)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

Visit the Writers and Editors website for a more complete list.

If you have read Zeitoun and would like to share your thoughts about it, please join us for one of the two PageTurners Book Club discussions next Tuesday (January 18) at either 10:30 am or 7:30 pm.  


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