Why fiction novels play an important role in society

Fiction writing can teach us a lot about society and humanity.

Though all literature is important, many often perceive fiction novels to be inferior to non-fiction.

Readers of fiction can carry lessons learned from a book forever. But why is it that fiction makes such a lasting impression?

Writer and editor Kate Sidley explains that fiction readers relate to experiences and characters on emotional and other levels.

She describes a fiction novel as a simulated social world which has its own dynamics and complexities.

Fiction makes meaning and makes sense of the world in a different kind of way.

Kate Sidley, writer and editor

According to Sidley, reading fiction contributes to a person's moral psychological development and their ability to have empathy or understanding.

It enhances out ability to connect with each other. It makes us a little bit more aware and informed.

Kate Sidley, writer and editor

The social realism highlighted in many fiction works presents themes that allow readers to encounter diversity but also see themselves through representation.

In particular, Sidley says dystopian novels explore economic and political structures and social scourges.

She mentions two recent fiction works that tell us about society:

  • The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver

An intriguing book set in near future, after the economic collapse of the US. A family gradually looses their trappings of middle class life.

It explores the fragility of the economy and how social contracts are eroded.

One of the characters says that plots that are set in the future are about what people fear in the present, they are not about the future at all.

Kate Sidley, writer and editor
  • Sarcophogas - Tuelo Gabonewe

A book set in a impoverished village in the Northern Province and doesn't romanticise rural life or poverty of the family, as many local novels tend to.

Listeners also called in to share their favourite fiction reads.

Kate Sidley and host Eusebius McKaiser talk books below:

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