In the year 1927, on the 6th of March, a little boy was born in the city of Aracataca, Colombia. This little boy grew up to become one of the most renowned authors of the 20th century. Yes, I’m talking about Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His name is synonymous with the genre of Magical Realism. So many readers around the globe have been introduced to Magical Realism through Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And I am sure many readers have only read his books under this genre.
Magical Realism as a genre is widely loved and mostly misunderstood. A lot of people misunderstand Magical Realism with Fantasy. However, Fantasy is a much vast genre, and Magical Realism can be considered a sub-genre under it. Furthermore, readers have this preconceived notion that Magical Realism is a complicated genre, and therefore they stay away from it. But honestly, it’s anything but complicated. There are only two elements in this genre, as the name already suggests – Magic and Reality. When these two are combined, we get Magic Realism.
Stories that are based on the modern world, telling realistic stories of real people, and managing to weave magic are the quintessential examples of Magical Realism. In these stories, magic is neither a big deal nor the central piece. Magic just exists without shying away from the modern world problems. There is no line between reality and magic in this genre. There are endless possibilities of magic intersecting with reality. In the world of Magical Realism, magic, and reality co-exist. There are no boundaries that divide them. This is why Magic Realism is a dear sub-genre of Fantasy. And did I tell you that another name for Magical Realism is Fabulism? Muy Interesante! So, how did Garcia Marquez become the ambassador of Magical Realism, or shall we say Fabulism?
Marquez did not coin this term or invent this genre for that matter. The term “Magic Realism” was coined by the German art critic Franz Roh in 1925 to describe “a magic insight into reality.” But Marquez definitely made it his own genre. In fact, I feel he gave Magical Realism its meaning with his stories and novels. To some extent, a lot of this has to do with his homeland. In Latin America, magic is ordinary. They believe in magic, and most importantly, they believe that magic and reality can co-exist without blurring any boundaries. If you dig deep into this matter, you will find a lot of books on magic and spells in Latin. And if you are a Potterhead, then you would definitely know that J. K. Rowling used a lot of Latin in the Harry Potter series. Remember the spells Expelliarmus and Lumos? Both come from the Latin root Expello and Lumen.
Hence, we can understand that Garcia did have a knack for magic and that he must have believed that magic and reality co-exist.
I read somewhere that for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, magic was ordinary, and reality was extraordinary. And honestly, this thought hit me hard because when you actually read his books, you will experience the very same thing. You will understand that he did see the magic in the reality of humans and their relationships with each other. He did not write about love romantically; rather, he presented love in front of his readers as if it is nothing less than magic – magic, which is ordinary. For him, love was ordinary but magical. However, if you go back and read his interviews, you will find him considering himself a hard-core realist. He didn’t think that his stories were magical. Which is both interesting and bizarre, because how does one deem a flying carpet to be real and not quite magical? Strange!"In the world of Magical Realism, magic, and reality co-exist. There are no boundaries that divide them. This is why Magic Realism is a dear sub-genre of Fantasy." Click To Tweet
If you have read One Hundred Years of Solitude, you will get the flying carpet reference. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a masterpiece novel by Marquez. And through this book, he sort of questioned the absurdity of our ordinary lives. He introduced magical elements that are very close to the Colombian culture. The Colombian culture involves a lot of traditions and superstitions, and Garcia Marquez weaved all of that in his novel for the readers to explore the endless possibilities. I feel if you are going to pick a book by Marquez, you have to do that with an open mind. You cannot believe in the extraordinary and then go ahead and read Marquez. However, in case you do not believe in the extraordinary possibilities, then I am sure Marquez will change your mind. Marquez will make you think that magic is real, and real is magical. He will take you on a rollercoaster ride and show you stars swimming in the ocean. Marquez will take you away from the real world and yet somehow manage to bring you so much closer.
So, if you have the guts to read something that questions your understanding of the real world, then go ahead and pick a novel by the man who epitomized the term Magical Realism – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.