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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Arty Fiction

Later today, my husband and I are going to our son's first grade class room for art appreciation.  We are going to teach the kids about Norman Rockwell (pre-chosen topic).  So I have had artists on the brain.

It got me thinking about all of the great novels which feature art and artists prominently.  Two of the most obvious are the literary and often historical novels of Tracy Chevalier and Susan Vreeland.  Both women tell stories about artists, the creation of art, and how art affects people generally from the female perspective.

But there are also men out there who regularly incorporate art into their stories.  Take bestseller espionage thriller writer Daniel Silva.  His hero, Gabriel Allon is a Mossad agent and art restorer.  These action packed spy novels are filled with danger, terrorists, and lots of details about art.

Here are a few art focused titles by other authors that I would highly suggest:

  • The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte: this novel has 2 story lines, both revolving around the aforementioned panel, one in the present and one in the past.  Expect romance, intrigue and murder.
  • Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo features an artist.  Read more here.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon is one of my favorite books ever and it is about comics; therefore it is all about art, artists, and the creative process.  But it is also about mid-20th Century America.
  • Nora Roberts is an amazing storyteller.  Look, I don't like Romance much and even I can admit that that woman can tell a great story.  I have men and women coming in to read her books.  One of the reasons Roberts is so popular is the details she adds to her stpries.  It is not uncommon for either her hero or heroine to be involved in an art form.  A good example is Chesapeake Blue.
  • We read The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama in book club last year.  The narrator is a young painter who encounters a Japanese gardener whose work with plants is also a form of art.  This is a novel which has stayed with me, and I often find myself thinking about it 13 months later.
This is just a sampling of the numerous offering out there.  Art and artists have obviously been quite an inspiration to their prose creating cousins the fiction writers.  For more ideas, check out this list from 2008 compiled by the contributors to Fiction-L a RA list serv.  Feel free to leave your own suggestion in the comments.

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