A Look Through Time: 10 Most Influential Historical Novels

7. Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys

Everyone knows what happened in Germany in 1941. We also have a good idea of what happened in England, France, Italy, and America around this time. But, how many of us know what happened in smaller, less powerful countries like Lithuania?

Between Shades of Gray is the story of Lina, a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who is arrested in her house, along with her family, and sent to Siberia. In one day, she went from a typical teenager who loved drawing and was shy around boys to a political prisoner in what can only be described as hell on earth.

8. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

Perhaps Achebe’s great masterpiece, Things Fall Apart is divided into two distinct parts. The first half of the book is all about life in pre-colonised Nigeria. We learn about tribal customs, village elders, and the dynamics between men and women. Life is simple, but it won’t be for long.

The second half of the book starts with the arrival of the white man. From that moment, nothing is ever the same as this African tribe tries to process its own colonisation.

9. Passing, Nella Larsen

If you were an African American in 1920s Harlem and happened to have light skin, you had the option to “pass.” This means you could pretend to be white, integrate into white society, and have a much better life than your darker counterparts. This is what Clare Kendry, the protagonist of the novel, has decided to do – to the disdain of her friend Irene, who could also pass but has chosen not to.

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The book deals with complex questions concerning identity and race. It begs the question: how much of your identity is tied up in the colour of your skin?

Image via Goodreads

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