Historical Drama of Kazakhstan History Made by Kazakhstani
The ten-part epic will follow the dramatic events that led to the birth of the first Kazakh khanate over 500 years ago, after the Mongolian-ruled Golden Horde empire collapsed.

trigly submitted:

A bit outside your wheelhouse, and you may have already got wind of it, but this looks like a cool project!

National pride is running particularly high after Russian president Vladimir offended Kazakhs by dismissing their past and claiming that Kazakhstan had no history. 

Great to see people telling their own story. They do have a history, and they’re going to present it with beautiful cinematography and high production values! 

The article calls it Kazakhstan’s “Game of Thrones”, though I’m thinking more “Marco Polo Without the White Guy”. Having been absorbed in Marco Polo recently, it’d be great to see these stories told without the inherent ‘othering’ of having a western main character!

This looks REALLY cool! Thanks so much for your submission. Here’s the trailer:

As a sidenote, I reaaaallllly wish journalists would stop conflating Game of Thrones and actual history/historical fiction, because it leads to the whole “Things Were Just Like That Back Then” problem. Among others.

I was commissioned the lovely Jessica Spotswood to do a promo illustration for the historical anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats. Edited by Jessica, it contains stories from 15 YA authors, featuring 15 very different American girls. I’ve been quite interested in historical fiction lately, so this was super fun to work on! You’ll want to read it. 

Pre-order the book here for a signed copy along with a 5x7 postcard print. 8x10 prints will also be available as giveaways at various book events form the authors. I’ll keep you posted!

(Stories by: J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y. S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revis, Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Jessica Spotswood, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein)

Why does the Hamilton audience feel such triumph at the line from the show, “Immigrants: we get the job done”? Where does that feeling come from? I think about the ways in which historical fiction can be a form of resistance to a homogenizing view of our world and our past. There are certainly more immediate and material ways to resist oppression — legislating, organizing, protesting, boycotting, and mobilizing are very powerful ways — but sometimes, just existing and living your life, having your story told, can have an impact.

Large chunks of our history are presented to many of us – queer people, people of colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people – as though we never existed. It bears saying, and repeating, that this isn’t true. People lived and worked and travelled in ways that defied the smooth and ever upward trajectory of the histories we are often taught. We first learn about the past from our families and our teachers, and sometimes they tell us contrasting accounts. But sitting in a classroom and being graded on the accuracy of your remembrance, your absorption – this usually filters down as the glorious and predestined origin story of whatever nation-state you’re in. It can still be a powerful experience, but it leaves out a lot of people, and not just because “there isn’t enough time” to cover a broader syllabus. (Sometimes there’s a poster of black and brown faces that goes up around February, so. Thanks for that, I guess.)

Erasure works in so many ways, and this means that for a person living in 2015, just the act of seeking an ancestor in the dominant historical narrative around you is an act of resistance. I was there. And I am here. These words ring out, full-throated and thrumming with power, whenever someone others might want to ignore elbows their way into view. “I am here” – when a person of colour wins a prestigious, and previously very white, award. “I am here” – when student protestors refuse to back down, at an institution that would rather they just behaved. “I am here” – when people write about themselves and their experiences. But to be here and be seen in the same way as cis-gendered straight white men are, for instance, would require not just producing excellent work and doing great things.

Depicting the histories of people otherwise erased is certainly intellectually interesting. It’s also a political project. And sometimes it just boils down to being a better storyteller. Demanding better, more accurate stories. In her piece on the absurdity of an all-white London in Suffragette, Ijeoma Oluo put it so well: “I’m tired of fantasy worlds where people of color don’t exist.”

Feeling like a part of something, feeling connected to people who lived long ago – it’s powerful stuff, and when people who are typically written out of stories find their way back in, and take you with them, it can be an act of resistance to the homogenizing, violent narrative that cuts out most of humanity.

—  “Who Tells Your Story?”: Historical Fiction as Resistance (The Toast) - there’s a lot more to this lovely piece, if you have time to check it out
Today I found out Richard the Lionheart and Philip II of France “ate every day at the same table and from the same dish, and at night their beds did not separate them.”

The Curious Relationship Between Richard the Lionheart and King Philip II of France

This website seems to think they probably weren’t lovers, but please tell me someone has written this epic historical gay romance because otherwise I might have to and I don’t know anything about the 12th century


Ira’s Shakespeare Dream    

By Glenda Armand
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. He spent every chance he got at the local theaters, memorizing each actor’s lines for all of Shakespeare’s plays. Ira just knew he could be a great Shakespearean actor if only given the chance. But in the early 1800s, only white actors were allowed to perform Shakespeare. Ira’s only option was to perform musical numbers at the all-black theater in New York city.

Despite being discouraged by his teacher and father, Ira determinedly pursued his dream and set off to England, the land of Shakespeare. There, Ira honed his acting skills and eventually performed at the acclaimed Theatre Royal Haymarket. Through perseverance and determination, Ira became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors throughout Europe.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream at Lee & Low books:

[Ira Aldridge; portrait by William Mulready c. 1840]

MedievalPoC posts about Ira Aldridge, Shakespearean Actor in Victorian London

JEFFREY BROWN: In filling in the story, though, you get to look at a lot of bigger issues, because you’re seeing Britain as a colonial power.


JEFFREY BROWN: You’re taking us to Trinidad. The Dr. Watson character is a black man, so you’re taking this into racial issues. Slavery is in the story.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: And just what it was like in England after slavery has been abolished, and how people relate to the colonies, because every time you see Victorian England depicted, they only look at London.

Well, London was attached to all of its colonies, so that attachment really hasn’t been explored.

Mycroft Holmes is the elusive and possibly more intelligent older brother of Sherlock Holmes. Now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – NBA All-Star, writer and Arthur Conan Doyle devotee – has co-authored a novel about the lesser known but no less intriguing brother Holmes. Jeffrey Brown sits down with Abdul-Jabbar to discuss his latest work.

View the Full Story/Transcript Here

Amazon | GoodReads


You can run out of colorful adjectives trying to describe Julie d'Aubigny. She was, according to history, exquisite in appearance, a graceful and superb fencer, a sublime singer, a swashbuckling duellist, and lover of men and women, famous and cloistered — and that’s just the beginning.

Australian young adult author Kelly Gardiner has written her first novel for grownups about a character who seems to leave no adult passion untested. It’s called Goddess, and Gardiner tells NPR’s Scott Simon that some people find it hard to believe that d'Aubigny was a real person, because her life was so remarkable, “but yes, she really did live.”

Find the full interview here. 

French author Theophile Gautier wrote a novel based on d’Aubigny in 1835 – it’s called Mademoiselle de Maupin, and it’s online at Project Gutenberg.

Fiction Week

I decided to go for a more visual approach this Fiction Week. Not everyone has the time, inclination, or ability to read books and novels. I think that showing how fiction can make an immediate impact through images is an important part of making changes in our worldview.

Whether in the form of a historically accurate period drama or an anachronistic time-or-space-traveling adventure, fiction is where we show who we are by creating scenes and worlds, as well as people to populate them. Anytime we recreate a time or invent a place, our identities help shape that. When we create a universe from whole cloth, it is spun from the fabrics of our own perspectives and experiences. Whether we travel through time or space, we always take one thing with us-ourselves.