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Top Ten Readings in Magical Realism

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This week, I want to talk about a genre I’ve been diving into more and more of late: Magical Realism. Being relatively new to the genre, this isn’t going to be a favorites list as recommended by Broke and the Bookish, but all the same, I have some amazing reads to share with you.

Magical Realism is a journey beyond fantasy, beyond the simple lessons woven into fairy tales. Best explained by Random House Dictionary, Magical Realism is “a style of painting and literature in which fantastic or imaginary and often unsettling images or events are depicted in a sharply detailed, realistic manner.” Interweaving magical, mythical elements with normal everyday occurrences, Magical Realism has a way of breaking past the reading for pleasure barrier like no other genre – there’s no ignoring the blatant statements being made by the authors, no matter how dark or daring the work, each novel brings a deeper understanding of life, of nature, and even humanity all the while painting a charming, magical scene and capturing the readers attention from start to finish. I can’t help but read each work with a sense of wonderment and awe for the author’s understanding, their brazing honesty, and their ease at dispelling secrets into the world.

The Trees and The Girl With Glass Feet
by Ali Shaw

The novel that truly started it all, I never would have ventured into the land of Magical Realism if it weren’t for The Trees. Adrien Thomas has never been the hero. Quite the opposite, the very image of candles burning near a table cloth is more than he can take, and after years struggling to contain his anxiety and listlessness, his wife Michelle has given him the freedom to quit teaching to find his true calling (if only he could). However, the trees have other ideas…. Without a warning, his serene suburb is transformed into a monstrous woodland, but not just his tiny town, the entire continent, perhaps the entire world. On a journey to find his wife, who, as luck would have it, is overseas for a work trip, Adrien will find an inner strength he never knew he possessed in a world where his flaws are, in reality, perfections and nature a monster in disguise. Ali Shaw is truly an amazing writer, in fact, I already have his first novel, The Girl With Glass Feet, on hold at the library. A story of a young girl slowly transforming into a figure of glass after spying a monster monster of lore, the novel explores the magical St. Houda’s Land and the magical creatures that reside in its snow-glazed forests.

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A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell

Caught between an eternal limbo and the horrors of World War II, Chaim Skibelski awakes to find himself buried by bodies of friends and neighbors, brutally murdered by Nazis, but finding himself very much alone, he gathers his courage to face his own death as he searches for the souls of his lost loved ones. A harrowing tale of the unspeakable acts committed during the war, Skibell blurs the line between reality and magic with vivid imagery and robust gallows humor, weaving a tale of deem familial meaning and cultural significance.

The Snow Child and To the Bright Edge of the World
by Eowyn Ivey

Commissioned to explore and navigate the impassable Wolverine River across the uncharted wilds of the Alaskan frontier, Colonel Allen Forrester sets off with a small group of men to face the unknown. Leaving his newly wed wife alone and with child, his journey is marked with uncertainty from the start, a dread only deepened by his witness to inexplicable acts of the spirits who haunt the canyon beyond. As I read more of To the Bright Edge of the World, I can only imagine what beauty awaits in Ivey’s first novel, The Snow Child. Bringing the glimmer of the 1920s to a desperate and lonesome homestead in the Alaskan countryside, new arrivals Jack and Mabel discover their child made of snow transformed into the blonde-haired, and very real, Faina. A gift with a fairy tale ending, the mysterious child brings a secret that will transform everything they once believed.

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The Hike by Drew Magary

A strange and wonderful journey, a suburban family man takes the hike of his life while away in the wilds of Pennsylvania for business. “With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of the greatest names in Magical Realism, Marquez is most notably known for stories of enduring love and endurance. One Hundred Years of Solitude follows six generations of the Buendia family living in the mythical Columbian utopia of Macondo. An allegorical tale outlining the history of South America, the novel is the time-old tale of love and war, full of visions and ghosts in a land of clouds and butterflies. An endearing love story, Love in the Time of Cholera shares a romance through letters and telegrams of two youths who endure hardship after hardship to finally unite 50 years later. Surveying the power of love, Marquez weaves a tale of heartbreaking lovesickness comparable to even the worst maladies

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Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

At the stroke of midnight, on August 15th, 1947, India became an independent nation, and Saleem Sinai is born with a tremendous gift. Each of the 1000 children born that night were blessed with special magical gifts, from the ability to change gender at will to Saleem’s own telepathy. Exploring the history of India, Saleem’s story signifies the evocation of a great nation and its people as they rise to meet an oppressive regime, making Midnight’s Children, unsurprisingly, one of the greatest novels of all time.

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Beloved by Toni Morrison

Following the story of Sethe, a former slave haunted by the ghost of her nameless child, Beloved strays from the expected lighthearted, whimsical tale you’d expect to find in Magical Realism. Believing her lost daughter has returned to her, Sethe’s life force is increasingly drained by the girl’s ghostly presence. A harrowing study of motherhood and slavery, Beloved is undoubtedly one of the greatest American novels of all time.

What are your favorite genres? 

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6 thoughts on “Top Ten Readings in Magical Realism

  1. What a great list. I’ve read a few off here – Toni Morrison – what a great author! I loved Snow Child – really well written and The Hike – I’ve only just recently read this and it was so unique and unusual. Very difficult to review without giving things away but I really liked it.
    Lynn 😀

    Like

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