Jenifer Berman


    Historical fiction is the bastard child of the literary world. Too often the marriage of vivid characters, colorful locales, and actual events produces bodice rippers, romantic fodder dressed up in a well-researched package. It’s no doubt hard to pen a historical novel that doesn’t succumb to the sensational or get stuck in factual minutiae. But at its best, the genre can be an eye-opener, combining heroic characters and real-life drama, pushing fact through the sieve of illusion yet never losing sight of its ability to inform.

    Case in point, Canadian writer Lawrence Hill’s expansive third

  • Native Seeker

    Somewhere between Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa and Alex Garland’s The Beach lies Mischa Berlinski’s debut novel, Fieldwork. With its exotic backdrop (the hill country of northern Thailand), dogged quest for meaning (the facts behind the mysterious murder of an American missionary), and meticulous detailing of tribal customs and anthropological facts, this unlikely marriage of page-turner and dissertation results in some clever and highly entertaining fiction.

    First, the premise: A young American freelance writer accompanies his girlfriend to Chiang Mai, Thailand, after the Internet