Dragons, fairies, ghouls, magic, and talking animals. These are just some characters we often read about in fantasy novels. But what if you find them living in your neighborhood? Well then, you’re living in a world of magical realism.
Magical realism is a literary genre that melds fantasy elements with real-life narratives. It explores possible realities where creatures and phenomena we read about happen in the real world. This genre also explores themes like love, family, and society. Magical realism novels are literary works for adults who are fond of both human interest and fantasy novels. What we like about these novels is that they broaden our imagination and tap into our minds’ fascinations.
Here are several magical realism novels we recommend.
Eight Magical Realism Novels That We Recommend
No list of magical realism novels is complete without this book. This novel recounts the history of the mythical town of Macondo in Colombia through the experiences of seven generations of the Buendia clan. Read the novel to know more about the rise and fall of a town whose literary existence is the reason for the birth of the term, “magical realism”.
Salman Rushdie’s novel explores the life of Saleem Sinai, an Indian child born on the day of India’s independence, and gifted with supernatural powers. He tackles various social issues through the eyes of Saleem and other children who share the same birth date, birth time and powers. This is a must-read for every parent who wishes to raise a socially-conscious child and just about anyone who finds interest in social issues.
Isabel Allende is another prolific author in the magical realism genre. Her young adult novel, City of the Beasts, is a relevant work on environmental protection. It follows teenager Alexander Cold and his adventures in the Amazon, where he learns about and transforms into his spirit animal, meets a Shaman, and encounters mythical talking Beasts.
Emily X.R. Pan’s novel The Astonishing Color of After, tells the story of Leigh Chen Sanders. She travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time after her mother’s suicide.
In Taiwan, she begins her search for her mother, whom she believes transformed into a bird. She also meets ghosts, uncovers family secrets and forms a new relationship with her maternal grandparents.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut in the magical realism genre. It tells the story of Weylyn Grey, a young man who was orphaned and left to live among wolves. He discovers that he has superpowers after stopping a tornado on Christmas Day. His journey is told from the perspectives of people he met and the weird occurrences around them that remind them of him.
This novel is the literary version of 2018’s Academy Academy Best Picture, The Shape of Water.
The story takes place in 1962, at the height of the Cold War. It revolves around a mute woman named Elisa Esposito, a janitress working at the Occam Aerospace Research Center. There’s nothing much going on in her life until she accidentally sees an amphibious man kept in a water tank. The man was kept as part of the government’s Cold War program. She and the creature develop a relationship that’s forbidden but at the same time enchanting and heartwarming. But things become tricky when US national security officers and Russians enter the picture.
Literally is a magical realism novel perfect for young adults. The book chronicles the adventures of Annabelle, a fictional character written by the novel’s author, Lucy. When Lucy announces a new book, Annabelle finds a way to write her own story and out of the premise the author created for her. The question now is, whose ending will we get to see?
Ami McKay documents the lives of the rich, witching, and famous in The Witches of New York. The story happens in 1880, where the upper crust of New York dabble in science experiments and the occult. Things change when a young village lady turned shop girl named Beatrice enters their world. Through the tutelage of her bosses Adelaide and Eleanor, Beatrice hones her natural spiritual gifts. Unknown to her, these powers will come in handy when she faces real dangers in the city. The premise is so good, the novel deserves its own film.