Magical Realism

Oct 05

[El descanso del Guerrero], originally uploaded by Cirileta.

One of my very favorite genres is “Magical Realism”. I find it fascinating and fun. You can address the most difficult, messy topics through the fantastical without overwhelming the reader. 

So, what exactly is magical realism?

It is a bit more complex than other genres to define, it definitely cannot be encompassed with a simple definitive description. Here are some good explanations I’ve found for the literary genre Magical Realism:

“…it’s appeal is rooted in reality and dares to explore magical elements present in that very reality, very elements that are often taken for granted and ignored…”1 

“Magic realism, or magical realism, is an artistic genre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwise realistic or even “normal” setting. It has been widely used in relation to literature, art, and film.” — Wikipedia 

“A literary mode rather than a distinguishable genre, magical realism aims to seize the paradox of the union of opposites.  For instance, it challenges polar opposites like life and death and the pre-colonial past versus the post-industrial present.  Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives, one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality.  Magical realism differs from pure fantasy primarily because it is set in a normal, modern world with authentic descriptions of humans and society.”2 

“Literature of this type is usually characterized by elements of the fantastic woven into the story with a deadpan sense of presentation.”3

Some of my favorite magical realism authors are Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, Paulo Coelho, Yann Martel, Jorge Luis Borges, Alice Hoffman and Neil Gaiman. Here are 10 of my favorite magical realism books:

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  2. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  3. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  6. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
  7. The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memoryby Jorge Luis Borges
  8. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  10. Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

I highly recommend these 10 magical realism books. I can keep listing…if you read all of the above and want more suggestions or if you suggestions of your own, let me know. I absolutely love to read magical realism.

  1. http://thefiendish.com/2009/02/a-journey-through-a-magical-landscape/ []
  2. http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/MagicalRealism.html []
  3. http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/gabo_mr.html []

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