In Search of Literary 'Truth'

Charges of fictionalization in Rigoberta Menchu's Nobel Prize-winning autobiography — which describes in vivid detail her life of oppression in Guatemala — have fueled passionate debate: Some supporters say the details are less important than the authenticity of Menchu's portrayal of the Guatemalan situation. Detractors say that's nonsense.

What then is literary truth? Is it a well-defined and absolute concept, or can fact and fiction sometimes overlap — yet still be based on "general truths"? Join host Ray Suarez for a discussion of literary authenticity and the danger to credibility when historical accounts are fictionalized.


Elena Lappin, author, "The Man With Two Heads," Granta magazine No. 66: "Truth & Lies"

David Stoll, author, Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans

Clifford Irving, author, The Autobiography of Howard Hughes



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.