Magical Realism has always been a genre that I have had a hard time categorizing, I mean, I could easily sit here and list some criteria often found in magical realism, but that wouldn’t help me, or you, understand it much better.
According to Wikipedia it is: Magical realism is a genre of narrative fiction and, more broadly art, that while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding or revealing magical elements.
This is a very straight forward description, it is also the kind of describtion that you read only to come away with no new information. instead I’ll start with some history on magical realism:
Magical realism originates in latin american literature, and it was popularized by writer Gabriel García Márquez. Some of the main characteristics of magical realism are:
- Magic is normalized
- It exists in everyone daily life
- It is not suddenly discovered
- Magic in itself in not the main conflict, although the magic can create conflict.
- The magic itself is not feared
The genre of magical realism is often compared to urban fantasy, but these two genres are very different, urban fantasy includes magic that is not seen as the norm, it is often feared, and it often plays the part of the major conflict.
So in short what does this mean? It means that the genre of magical realism, isn’t a genre that is easily described, it is not a genre that is easy to agree on either, as everyone has their own versions. I too have a hard time explaining the genre, which is why this weeks post is so much shorter. But the genre is still one that has some overall characteristics, that must be included in the book for it to be magical realism.
Some books categorized as magical realism:
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”
Then he made one last effort to search in his heart for the place where his affection had rotted away, and he could not find it.
- The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
Just because love don’t look the way you think it should, don’t mean you don’t have it.
- Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
A magic passed down through generations . . .
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen . . .
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
A summer that will become legend . . .
When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
She was tied to the water, my sister. Moods like tides, temper like a hungry shark
- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allend
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies.
Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.
Just as when we come into the world, when we die we are afraid of the unknown. But the fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality. Dying is like being born: just a change
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.