Forum Friday: What do you recommend for magical realism?

This one’s for the readers– and for me, because I love magical realism, and haven’t read nearly enough of it. Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate may be the only full-length novel I’ve read that employs it throughout (ex: tears gushing into floods, quail cooked with rose petals that ignite feelings of passion when eaten, souls represented as a lit match inside each person).

In brief, for anyone unfamiliar with it, magical realism is a style of writing that imbues ordinary, everyday things with something magic, fantastical, etc. Wikipedia offers an expanded definition.

What books or short stories would you recommend to someone looking for magical realism?


16 responses to “Forum Friday: What do you recommend for magical realism?”

  1. I have not read much in the way of Magical Realism, but have been getting into the work of Haruki Murakami lately. Last year I read Murakami’s “1Q84” which definitely falls into that category and I loved it. I’ve got a review of it on my website ( Check it out!

    1. I love Murakami! But man, I’d be hard pressed to classify his writing. Definitely blurs categories.

      Thanks for recommending 1Q84. It’s going on the official to-read list!

  2. A lot of Latin American fiction fits into the category of magic realism, with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ being probably the most well known. I heartily recommend it. My own Pedersen’s Last Dream, which I am publishing as I edit (, also fits into the genre. May I be so cheeky as to suggest your readers take a peek?

    1. Yes! Interestingly nearly all the examples of magical realism I can think of were written in Spanish by one author or another (Marquez, Borges, and of course the book I mentioned).

  3. Dianne Gray, the Australian author, throws in little bits of mysticism and unnatural occurrences whilst not messing with the believability of the story. It’s a difficult trick if you’re dealing with an adult audience. I started to read a book a year ago in which, in an interesting enough story, three of the characters, one after the other, demonstrated super powers 😦 It just lost all credibility for me right there.

    In my present WIP I’m using the west of Ireland as a location in which to play around with hauntings, faeries, leprechauns and stuff in the hope that readers will go with it in the the right spirit (so to speak). Only time will tell.

    1. Dianne Gray! Sounds familiar. I’m off to investigate…

      I’ve read at least one book that was mainstream fiction but played with some of Ireland’s folklore really well– Skippy Dies? I recommend it if you haven’t read it…perhaps relevant reading!

      1. Thank you Julie, onto my wish list 🙂

  4. John Fowles definitely fits into this genre with ‘The Magus’ springing to mind. Then there’s the brilliant Paul Auster.

    One of my favourite female writers of magical realism has to be
    Angela Carter. Perhaps she was one of the very best of all. Nights at the Circus is a must. I can go…and on…and on…of course… but it is Saturday night.

    1. *Frantically notes authors* Fantastic! Thanks for sharing, Bryan!

  5. “Chocolat” by Joann Harris! Or, if you’d like… you can just watch the movie with Johnnie Depp 😉 “Water for Chocolate” reminded me of this story a lot, because of the sort of “magical properties” of food and the way it can affect people.

    1. OMG, I am adding that to my reading list NOW! Chocolat is one of my absolute favorite movies (one of select few I never tire of) and I’ll bet the book is even better! Thanks for the suggestion, Aussa 🙂

  6. Hi, Julie! Thanks for bringing tho up. I am currently reading “Red Velvet And Absinthe”, a fun and spicy collection of short stories that blends paranormal, erotic romance and Magical Realism.

    A more classic collection is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Collected Stories” out through Harper Perennial.

    I have a blog that celebrates Magical Realism in all mediums if anyone wants to join me over there it’s called “Create An Enchanted Life” :))

    1. Hello, Fiona! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I remember reading some of Marquez’s short stories in a Spanish class some years ago and being totally blown away. I should really pick those up again…

      1. No worries. Yeah Marquez often seems blunt, to me, but also so unopolagetic and confident! I forgot to leave you this wonderful list of 195 MR titles put together by Zoe Brooks.

        1. Omg, this is fantastic!!! Thank you, Fiona!

          1. My pleasure, J. I hope to get through the list someday myself, too.

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