To me, yes.
Just had this discussion with a professor of mine. If a person says, to me, that they could read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried in the same way and with the same satisfaction if the author was a 70 year old Danish woman, then I’ll believe them, but the same would not be true for me.
Notice, I’m not talking about whether a book is true or not. I expect all books billed as novels to be more or less fictional in terms of their actual events. But in some books, there is a clear implication that the author lived through events similar to these…or at least existed within a milieu that contained characters and settings that are similar to the ones shown in the book. Personally, I enjoy a book more if I think that it, in some way, conveys something about the world that’s true. But I have no ability to evaluate the truthfulness of a book. Maybe it’s actually a horrendous lie or a distortion of the truth.
I know it’s hip to say that you don’t care about an author’s external authority, but I do. I am more likely to believe something if it’s told to me by someone who I think might actually know something about that thing. I know it’d be possible for a 70 year old Danish woman to tell me something true about America’s involvement in Vietnam…but I think it’s much less likely than hearing that true thing from a Vietnam vet.