12 novels set during key historical events


The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson

Set during the 1830 Black Line of Tasmania

The Black War saw the indigenous population of Tasmania hunted, and killed by British Colonialists. Rohan Wilson has drawn inspiration from the real life figure of John Batman – a grazier who rose to prominence as a government-authorised bounty hunter – and imagined the ‘roving party’ that set out under his direction. The Black Line is a dark period in Australia’s history that should never be forgotten.


Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

Set during the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests

Victor, homeless after a family tragedy, finds himself pounding the streets of Seattle with little meaning or purpose. He is the estranged son of the police chief of the city, and today his father is in charge of one of the largest protests in the history of Western democracy. In a matter of hours, hordes of protesters – from all sections of society – will test the patience of the city’s police force, and lives will be altered forever.


All Involved by Ryan Gattis

Set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots

The 1992 Los Angeles Riots saw six days of looting, arson, assault and murder. In All Involved, Ryan Gattis weaves a narrative from the perspectives of people whose stories of the riots were never told. In six sections, each covering a single day, we follow the intersecting lives of 18 characters: gang members, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers and graffiti artists.


The Golden Age by Joan London

Set during the 1950s polio outbreak in Perth

It is 1954 and Frank Gold, a 13-year-old refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At the Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Home, he meets a fellow patient named Elsa and the two form a passionate bond. The location of this story is based on a real a convalescent home that existed in Perth.


Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Set during the 1666 plague

In 1666, the villagers of Eyam, Derbyshire made the decision to quarantine their plague-infested village and prevent the contagion from spreading further. Their extraordinary story is vividly depicted by Geraldine Brooks through the eyes of shepherdess Anna Frith. At only 18, she must contend with the death of her family, the disintegration of her society, and the lure of a dangerous, illicit attraction.


The Burning Elephant by Christopher Raja

Set during the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi

The Burning Elephant is set in Kolkata before and after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. This tragic event led to widespread violence against India’s Sikh population, and the story is told from the point of view of a young boy Govinda, whose father is the headmaster of a local school.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Set during the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 attacks

Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet.


Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

Set during the 1908 whaling season of Eden, New South Wales

The eldest daughter of a whaling family chronicles the particularly difficult season of 1908, with bittersweet humour. Rush Oh! is a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance with a pod of Killer whales – and in particular, a killer whale named Tom.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Set during the mid-1970s, when a ‘State of Emergency’ was declared in India

A Fine Balance tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a ‘State of Internal Emergency’. Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances – and their fates – become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen.


Summertime by Vanessa LaFaye

Set during 1935 Labor Day hurricane

In the small town of Heron Key, where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp, everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. A white woman is found beaten nearly to death, and tensions rise just as the barometer starts to plummet. The Labor Day hurricane of 1935 was one of the most intense in US recorded history, and claimed the lives of more than 400 people.


A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Set during the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley

On 3 December, 1976, seven gunmen stormed Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, his manager, and others. Marlon James uses this incident as a platform from which to delve into the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics, traversing three decades.


In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Set during the early 1950s, when three planes all crashed within a matter of months in New Jersey

When three planes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey within the space of three months, Newark airport was closed for a year. Inspired by this real events, Judy Blume interweaves the stories of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are forever changed in the aftermath.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Sunil Yapa

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