The big split in zoology is between plants and animals; the big split in books is between fiction and nonfiction. The main distinction is that nonfiction deals in fact, whereas fiction… doesn’t. Fiction might be realistic, such that the characters and the situations seem just like the sort of thing that might happen to you and me. But we understand that the story and the characters aren’t real; they’re figments of the author’s imagination.
There are hybrids: semi-fictionalized memoirs, novels in which the author appears as a character in the story, alternative history, those long discourses on the physiology of whales in Moby Dick, and so on. But you know what I mean.
So the question is this: can fiction – the clearly made-up parts of fiction – possibly be construed as “true”?
Certainly there are facts internal to the work of fiction: Sherlock Holmes smokes a pipe, he has a friend named Dr. Watson. There are broader internal truths too; e.g., Holmes is a great detective. What I’m talking about are fictional truths that are also true in the “real world.” Is such a thing possible? If so, how does it work?