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How is Magic Realism Different From fantasy?

If you are a voracious reader who reads different styles of literature, then you might have come across the term magic realism. You might be familiar with the works of authors like Gabriel Garcia Marques or Jorge Luis Borges and might have seen how they have effortlessly added the element of fantasy to reality.

But if you are a person who is hearing the term ‘magic-realism’ for the first time, you may confuse it with fantasy. You can look into this guide to understand the difference between magic realism and fantasy.

What is Magic realism?

Magic realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world but uses elements of fantasy or magic. Here the world will be situated in a real world where elements of magic are considered very normal. The world of magic realism blurs the difference between magic and reality.

Characters of magic realism

You can look into these features of magic realism to understand it better.

Realistic setting

One of the main features of magic realism is that the novel will be set in a realistic place that all the readers will be familiar with.

Element of Magic

Even though they are set in a realistic world, readers will be able to find elements of magic or fantasy. You can find supernatural creatures dead creatures or telepathic powers.

Response to the unrealistic elements

Another feature of magic realism is how characters respond to the element of fantasy. The characters will respond to these unrealistic things around them in a very normal way. Compared to other genres of fiction that separate fantasy from reality, magic realism blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The characters will respond to these unrealistic events quite naturally as if that is very common.

Limited information

Unlike fiction where they will widely explain the fantasy world, in magic realism the author will give limited information about the elements of magic. By leaving those elements of magic unexplained, the readers will feel that they are normal and is a part of everyday life.

For instance, in the novel Midnight children by Salman Rushdie, the boy born at midnight on the day India got independence has telepathic power. Even though there are elements of imagination, we feel it is natural.

Limited information


Most of the time, the author uses magic realism to critique society. This genre is developed in Latin America where people were oppressed and exploited by Western World. They used Magic realism to comment on this exploitation.

Fantasy takes the readers to a world that is unreal with unreal characters. For instance, the world that is depicted in the famous trilogy The Lord of the Rings which is filled with elves and dwarfs is the best example of fantasy. But in magic realism, you will not be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy as they are intelligently woven into each other.


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