Magical Realism

Readers may wonder what exactly is the difference between fantasy and magical realism and to be fair, distinguishing between the two can be difficult. Fantasy typically involves a wide range of magical elements, in a world that is significantly different than our own. Magical realism, on the other hand, is much closer to literary realism and employs just a few elements of magic. Instead of primarily relying on the intrigue from magical elements like dragons or fairies or an otherworldly setting, it may take place in a world extremely similar to your own, but with a few differences.

An example of a popular magical realism author is Haruki Murakami, who often writes stories that have talking cats, or people who inexplicably have some super powerful ability that affects how they go about life. Some of his stories incorporate ghosts. Calvin Westra is another example of an author who has written magical realism books, for instance in his inclusion of a giant mythical bird named Paracelsus in his acclaimed novel, Donald Goines.

Books like Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami) or Donald Goines (Calvin Westra) are significantly different than high fantasy novels such as what George R.R. Martin writes. Martin’s famous series is considered high fantasy because magic is a relatively established part of the framework and the story would not work if the magical elements suddenly disappeared. If you were watching the HBO series Game of Thrones and there were no longer mystical assassins who could appear from thin air, giant dragons, fire worshiping sorcerers, and so on, the story would be missing quite a lot.

However, in magical realism, the story would still be primarily there. This is why authors like Bolano, Saramago, Borges, Marquez, and others are also often cited as magical realism authors even though one might never consider them as fantasy writers. Their books are far from fantasy, but they are not quite in the world that we are accustomed to. They inhabit the edges of normalcy and flirt with something more.

There are lots of great places to learn more about magical realism and to find your next magical realism novel. Goodreads is a website that helps connect readers with books that will suit their interest. There are lots of articles on Goodreads that list magical realism books that you could try out.

Naturally, because magical realism as a term casts a wide net across literature and books in general, you will be sure to find something that matches your interests. There will also be plenty of books within the genre that aren’t exactly what you were looking for. The only way to figure out which authors really speak to you and satisfy your personal literary desires is to try a few of them out and begin to determine which ones you personally like. Then you can use Goodreads some more to find what books are recommended to people who liked the same books that you liked.

Sites like Goodreads do a great job of connecting readers to what they want. Whether you are looking for indie romance or a monster horror novel, Goodreads has lists and also recommendations based on what you have read. These algorithm based recommendations will help you find something great to read next.