Magical realism is one of the most intriguing literary genres. It is the best of both worlds: you get both the creativity of a fantasy world, combined with the relatability of realism. Magical realism has some of the charms that YA books do, but with added maturity. If you are wondering where to start out with magical realism, you’re in the right place! I have found three authors who are a really great start to your journey.
Hiromi Kawakami: a never-ending Spirited Away
If you ever watched a Ghibli movie, specifically Spirited Away, and thought to yourself: “Man, I wish there were more things with the exact atmosphere”, then you are in luck. Hiromi Kawakami’s prose is in the same exact vein, where the mundane and the fantastic are slowly blending into each other.
I have read the three delightful short stories that are compiled in the volume “Record of a Night Too Brief”, and all three of them were brimming with creativity. We have the story of a woman slowly turning into a snake, the experience of a woman who was the only one that could see her missing brother, and the eerie tale of a couple during a single night. Her prose treads a fine line between dream and tear-jerking reality, which is much better emphasized when put in contrast with the absurdity of the fantastic.
Jorge Luis Borges: the father of magical realism
Jorge Luis Borges is an amazing writer through and through. He is best known for his reality-bending writing style and allegorical short stories. He tends to mix reality and fiction in a very interesting way, making one question if the fantasy is not actually more real than reality.
He uses different motives, such as labyrinths, dreams, mirrors, and mythological references to weaving intricate plots that loosely connect his short stories. If you want to start reading Borges, “A Universal History of Infamy”, “Labyrinths” or “The Book of Sand” are a fantastic gateway into magical realism.
Haruki Murakami: the magic is in the details
The magical realism in Murakami’s work is more on the subtle side. Sure, there are works in which his weird shine on, such as “A Wild Sheep Chase”. However, I believe that his more grounded work should not go unnoticed.
I am partial to Murakami’s short stories since I feel that there is where he shines the most. His stories are real, raw, but they have a mystical and unexplainable element to them. It’s like he took a camera and captured humanity during their most magical, and put everything into words. If Borges is too complicated to understand, or Kawakami is perhaps too weird for some, I believe that the writings of Murakami are the best gateway into magical realism. I personally recommend every short stories collection or the novel “After Dark”.
I hope you will give magical realism a chance, and maybe discover a new genre to explore. If you want to know about other books or authors, don’t hesitate to check out our other articles.