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What the Heck is Magical Realism?

     What an excellent question, people!  Magical realism is a type of fiction that goes along like any average realistic/historical novel until suddenly the character starts talking to her mother's ghost or bursts into flames at the sight of her one true love.  This kind of book has scenes of magic that highlight the book's themes and heighten the drama of the story, without completely turning it into a work of fantasy.  I started reading a magical realism memoir recently and it's reminded me of how much I love the genre, so here is a list of my favorites!
Just to give you an idea of how many Post-Its I need
to keep up with Woman Warrior
1. Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston- This book is the inspiration for this post.  The writer interspersed stories from her life with stories from her family past, Chinese legends, warped oral histories, and allegories.  It's super confusing and trippy, but with a purpose. And that's my favorite kind of book honestly.
2. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel- I read this book in Spanish a few years ago  before I even knew what magical realism was, and I had to read certain passages over and over because I was sure that something was being lost in translation.  But no, I was reading correctly when a woman burst into literal flames at the sight of her lover
3. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende- The crazy story of a wealthy family divided between a twisted domineering patriarch and his mystical women, set at a time of revolution in Chile.
4.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman- A classic story of a young man coming of age, except this one is set in a graveyard.  The boy was raised by ghosts and is being hunted by a mythical character called Jack. There is no explanation for anything that occurs in this book, but a lot of it is based in mythology, so most people can figure the details out for themselves.  Many of Gaiman's other books, such as Coraline, are also magical realism.
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- Seems like totally normal (though quite above average) historical fiction centered on the Holocaust, until you realize that the story has a very unusual narrator.
     **Practically every book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez should be on this list as well, since he is one of the greatest magical realist writers ever, but I am an uncultured bum and have read none of them :P  Don't worry though, I will be remedying this problem very soon!
     - Carly

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