Fiction fans who get red in the face when people tell them, “I only read nonfiction–I like to learn things,” have found unlikely allies: a team of researchers from Manchester University and the London School of Economics. In a report titled “The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge,” the authors claim that novels such as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger do more to enhance the public’s knowledge of world issues than academic literature (“Novels ‘better at explaining world’s problems than reports’,” by Stephen Adams, The Telegraph). According to Dr. Dennis Rogers of Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute:
“Despite the regular flow of academic studies, expert reports, and policy position papers, it is arguably novelists who do as good a job – if not a better one – of representing and communicating the realities of international development.
“While fiction may not always show a set of presentable research findings, it does not compromise on complexity, politics or readability in the way that academic literature sometimes does.
“And fiction often reaches a much larger and diverse audience than academic work and may therefore be more influential in shaping public knowledge and understanding of development issues.”