Interest in African literature has widened in contemporary times owing largely to the peculiar historical experiences of Africans, and especially how African writers have strived to confront modern world's globality with the past. This work is a stimulating research in an overly new area in African studies - the African historical novel. It is both a theoretial conceptualisation and an advancement of the poetics of the African historical novel. This is a milestone research that rigorously advances radical claims on the existence and unique attributes of the African historical novel, seeking to rescue the genre from the totalising claims of the African novel as necessarily historical. Among the questions engaged in the work include: what is African historical novel? How does it differ from other historical novels? What is the role and place of the historical novel in African literature? And to tease out the answers, contemporary South African novels by Manu Herbstein and Zakes Mda are explored to further examine the poetics of difference in white and black African writings.