In the early 20th century, a Latin American literary movement called “magical realism” emerged. The term was coined by German art critic Franz Roh, who used it to describe paintings by European artists Georges Rouault and Max Ernst.
These painters illustrated scenes from daily life that were filled with fantastic elements, such as ghosts or monsters, to express their spiritual concerns and fears. In this way, they could reveal something more profoundly deeper about our reality than mere physical appearances could convey on their own.
Magical Realism is a Genre of Fiction Writing, Specifically within the Novel Genre
Magical realism is a literary genre and form of fiction, often characterized by blending the fantastic and the everyday. Magical realist novels are usually placed in the same category as allegory, fantasy, fables, folklore, legends and mythic fiction because they all tell an incredible story through believable characters.
Magical realism is distinct from science fiction because it does not focus on technology or futuristic gadgets as much as it does on emotions and human life experiences within a given world that may or may not be parallel to ours. he
Described as Being Part of the Postmodern Movement
The movement of magical realism is also often described as being part of the postmodern movement. Postmodernism is a movement that began in the 1960s and 1970s, and it’s generally seen as a reaction to modernism.
In contrast to its predecessor, postmodernism is characterized by its use of irony and parody; it attempts to break away from rigid rules set by previous authors.
Magical Realism Mixes “Magical” Elements with Realistic Elements and Characters
In magical realism, characters inhabit a world that is not quite like ours. This can happen in several ways: magical or fantastical events occur without explanation; the setting of the story is mysterious and unusual, or the characters are ordinary people who are caught up in extraordinary circumstances.
These elements combine to create an atmosphere where readers are often left to decide whether they’re reading about “real life” or something otherworldly.
The best way to learn how to write this kind of book is by studying examples of it from writers who have mastered the form—like Gabriel García Márquez and Alice Hoffman (two authors whose work I highly recommend).
Magical realism has been taken up in many forms of art, but it has remained most prominent in the literature. For example, you can find magical realism in music (such as the work of Frank Zappa), art (such as Magritte’s paintings) and film (such as Fellini’s work).
Just as there are many forms of magical realism, there are also many ways to approach reading this genre. Readers can choose from plenty of books that break down the basics of magical realism in literary terms, or they can go more experientially with a book that offers readings on how it works for individual works. And if one isn’t enough for you, well, maybe we just found your next book club read!