Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Magical realism is a genre in which magical events occur alongside normal, everyday ones. In Love in the Time of Cholera, for example, Fermina might sense the flesh and blood presence of her dead husband – and then go about her day.
Visions, ghosts, parrots whose capacity for speech makes them eerily close to human – all of these things blend with more mundane occurrences in the book, creating a world in which the supernatural seems ordinary, and the ordinary seem...well, more magical.
While García Márquez's works are considered to be some of the preeminent examples of South American magical realism, we have to point out that the term itself is controversial. García Márquez says that he simply writes "the way my grandmother told stories." In other words, some of the things that seem magical from our cultural perspective might not have seemed all that extraordinary to García Márquez's Colombian grandmother. The worry is that when we call this novel "magical," we might be exoticizing it – taking it out of its cultural context and seeing it as foreign, incomprehensible, and therefore magical.