Using the lens of business history to contextualize the development of an American literary tradition, this book shows how African-American literature and culture greatly influenced the development of realism, which remains one of the most significant genres of writing in the US. More specifically, "Truth Stranger than Fiction" traces the influences of generic conventions popularized in slave narratives, such as the use of authenticating details, as well as dialect and a frank treatment of the human body in later realist writings. As it unfolds, this book poses and explores a set of questions about the shifting relationship between literature and culture in the US from 1830 to 1930 by focusing on the evolving trend of literary realism. Beginning with the question, "how might slave narratives - heralded as the first indigenous literature by Theodore Parker - have influenced the development of American literature?", the book develops connections between an emerging literary market-place, the rise of the professional writer and literary realism.