So when I began typing "Magical Realism to Google it, I was very surprised when my search engine finished the phrase for me, then opened up to a Wikipedia page, and many other pages on the topic. Shoot, there are whole books on Magical Realism, and I'm just now hearing the term. Honestly, I'm blown away by all I don't know.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Katy began her post on Monday by saying, "A cherished writer friend recently planted a flag in the literary sod and vowed to build a brand on Magical Realism in fiction." I'm also friends with the writer, and when she said she wants to write "Magical Realism," I thought, What a great way to define what she writes. Wish I could be so spot on describing what I write. And then, after reading some of the really good comments to Katy's post, I began to think, Hmm, maybe our friend wasn't the first to coin the phrase.
According to Wikipedia, Magical Realism is defined as: "an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality." But I suppose you already knew that. Wikipedia lost me, like a dropped stitch, in the ensuing paragraph then picked me up again when it said, "Today there are many varieties of writers whose work is categorized as 'magical realist' to such an extent that critics and readers alike are confused as to what the term really means and how wide its borders are."
That would be me.
While exploring the subject, I read an interesting article on Magical Realism by Bruce Holland Rogers titled, "What is Magical Realism, Really?". That doesn't mean I could make a coherent presentation about Magical Realism, but it gave me a little more information I could somewhat grasp. Mr. Rogers said, "If a magazine editor these days asks for contributions that are magical realism, what she's really saying is that she wants contemporary fantasy written to a high literary standard -- fantasy that readers who 'don't read escapist literature' will happily read. It's a marketing label and an attempt to carve out a part of the prestige readership for speculative works."
In the Comments section of Katy's post, Megan Sayer said, "The church needs to champion this, not be afraid of it." I couldn't agree more. And Niki Turner in her comment, which made me realize there was more to the subject than I first understood, said, "I always wonder why we, as Christians, have such difficulty merging the supernatural with the natural. That realm, with all its 'magical' qualities, should be more real to us than reality."
It should, but it's not. And we could probably go back centuries to find when the church first began to disavow the miraculous in its midst. But if biblical truth contains the miraculous, the numinous, the fantastic and sublime, why shouldn't a Christian's work contain the same kind of truth? Why do we not only shy away from such things, but consider them taboo? There are plenty of artists and authors who aren't necessarily on the Creator's side who have no qualms about spotlighting a world we can't see with human eyes. If we believe all we read between the pages of the Bible, we should, as Megan says, be championing the supernatural in our work and in our lives.
In the little bit of research I did on the topic, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was the most often cited novel that fits the category. What other books have you read, or would recommend on Magical Realism? And am I the only one who didn't know it's a recognized genre?