Literary fiction is always difficult to peg, but this is historical fiction at its heart.
Baron Maklin is leading an expedition to The Green Islands, a land inhabited by a stone age culture untarnished by western thought. He plans to spend a year there learning about their culture and taking measurements with various instruments. The funding for this trip came from Duke Konstantin, who expects Maklin to plant the Russian flag on the land. Maklin refuses to do this when he gets there, and worries that on his return his actions will be regarded treason.
That’s the beginning of Maklin’s journey into a new way of thinking about the world around him and his effect on it and the tribes with which he works. It’s intelligent, well written and considers the impact of the imperial race the Europeans took part in during the 18th/19th centuries. It’s clever because you see the impact of the vast and distant rulers on a small island which should be paradise.
Fatal Empires is a shining example of how to spread the word about how one culture can impact on another and how that impacts on the individual.