To Harry Mulisch, history is a matter of selection (what is remembered, recorded and by whom) and reduction (what is deemed worth preserving). Ultimately, what remains of history -- what makes it permanent -- is historical fiction.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is structured as a Greek tragedy. At this level the novel is a timeless epic. The element of time plays an important role in most of Mulisch's work. To him, a writer deals with time in many different ways.
De aanslag / The Assault by Harry Mulisch is a historical novel par excellence. It's historical fiction, it's meta fiction about history and writing about history, and Mulisch has incorporated historical events and people so realistically that some Belgian television people came looking for the exact location of the assault.