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Many works of fiction have been inspired by actual events, yet the extent of the writer’s adherence to—and transformation of— factual material diff ers among authors. In Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, for example, the author describes his work as “immaculately factual,” though he admits employing “techniques of fictional art” in his narrative. Philip Roth in The Plot Against America, on the other hand, relies heavily on diverse historical sources but also integrates fictional events and characters into his narrative. Singularly different from these writers, Bernard Malamud in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Fixer, draws upon a memoir in numerous particulars, which resulted in a controversial charge of plagiarism.
Examining the diverse ways in which novelists fictionalize real events, selectively drawing from sources such as archives, histories, memoirs, investigative reports, newspapers, interviews and more, provides a unique and fascinating window into the writer’s creative process and into the work itself. While these authors begin with actual events in time, the very best of their work resonates not only with events of the past, but with the present as well—and with human nature more generally