No Man’s Land by A.J. Fitzwater (Paper Road Press, 2020), 154 pp, $22; Jerningham by Cristina Sanders (The Cuba Press, 2020), 388 pp, $37
The best historical fiction gives readers a space to explore the origins of issues that continue to affect them. It also presents writers with unique challenges of voice, emotional plausibility, and historical and contemporary validity. Two new novels, No Man’s Land by Vogel Award-winner A.J. Fitzwater and Cristina Sanders’ first adult novel, Jerningham, tackle these challenges in different but equally engaging ways.
In the early 1940s, when thousands of New Zealand men served in the armed forces overseas, women stepped into traditional male roles in farming, factories and other essential industries. This provides the backdrop for Fitzwater’s exploration of sex, gender and identity in No Man’s Land. [Read more…]