Friday, March 13, 2015

Contemporary with a Touch of Magic

This post is a part of Contemporary Conversations, hosted by The Thousand Lives and Talking Bookworm. (Okay, so technically this discussion is not strictly within the bounds of an event celebrating contemporary books, but whatever. My blog, my rules haha.)

Today, we're going to be talking about books with just that little touch of magic: books within the genre of Magical Realism.

Magical Realism is defined as "a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction" (from Merriam Webster)
The trouble I sometimes have is: where is it exactly that we draw the line between paranormal and magical realism?

To be honest, taking that above definition, we could technically call any paranormal book "magical realism". Because all of those books are realistic if we take out the fantastic or mythical elements. For me, I try and define the boundary between the genres by thinking about exactly how much magic is in the books. Just a little? Then probably magical realism. A lot, especially in the makeup of the world and a defined magic system? Then probably paranormal fantasy.

But of course, it's not that easy.

For example, take The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. There are undeniably some paranormal/magical elements in that series, but I feel like, because there's only that touch of it, you could call it magical realism. Then again, you know, there is a ghost, and people pulling things out of dreams and whatnot, so maybe you'd go more down the route of paranormal.

Then there's Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone. One of the characters in that book is able to time travel (and he's the only person in that book who can do so). But would that make the book a scifi or paranormal? There's hardly any magic/supernatural stuff in that book at all; apart from that one character travelling time, it mostly reads as a contemporary romance.

Gahhh, defining genres is difficult.

Well, in any case, here are some recommendations for (maybe) Magical Realism books:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Every Day by David Levithan
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

How do you define magical realism?
Any recommendations?