I was reminded of my love for magic realism recently when hearing of a new novel by Max Porter, ‘Lanny’. He is an author I do not know but look forward finding his work. https://www.maxporter.co.uk/lanny
I first encountered magic realism when reading ‘One Hundred Years’ of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez soon after it was published. A completely real world is created with a strand of the unreal, as in the yellow butterflies that follow Mauricio Babilonia, the handsome and honest mechanic. Symbols of love and hope.
Magic realism as a literary movement was born in Latin America in the 1960’s. The critic and author, Isabel Allende, writes of the genre that ‘in magic realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal. It is predominantly an art of surprises.’ This Chilean writer’s most well known novel is ‘House of the Spirits’.
I studied the works of Angela Carter at university and was delighted to be taken into a world where time and place are everyday and yet a bit off balance. There was nothing I did not believe, could put myself in those characters’ shoes, empathise and imagine with them. I realised what scope it gives to write in a similar style.
Writing a Magic Realism Novel
‘The Angel Child’, which I began soon after, is a magic realism novel. That a woman lives most of her life in trees in her garden despite having a perfectly good house to live in was taken from a newspaper article. That the lover which I imagined for her bears a child who kills her father is not out of the ordinary. That a baby is born with breath so hot that it burns his mother’s breast, who grows into a young man who flees his village in a hot air balloon, might be possible. And Lula, the fortune teller, who was six when the rainbow came to wrap itself around her shoulders needs this. ‘A gift, a shield, a soulmate; whatever its purpose during those years of growing to womanhood, the abandoned child was able to look to the future with optimism.’ The land they live in, the countryside identifiable as somewhere which would have an English climate and foliage but never quite in the same way. It is a place apart, a magical place where a man walks a tightrope and disappears; where a woman dies for… Yes, the actions of the characters are as brutal or as full of compassion, the supernatural mundane, but enchantment hovers beneath the surface.
There are so many wonderful novels which can be identified as magic realism. Apart from the many I’ve read and loved including; ‘The Man with Enormous Wings’, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ or ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for instance; or Angela Carter’s ‘The Magic Toyshop’, ‘Nights at the Circus’, Wise Children’. Or you could go to https://magic-realism-books.blogspot.com where Zoe Brooks reviews and recommends other novels in the genre.
The Angel Child can be bought from Amazon as a Paperback or Kindle book.