Study Guide

Magic Realism Texts

Magic Realism Resources

Primary Resources

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis (1915)
Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself a big, bad bug. A creepy classic of proto-Magic Realism.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography (1928)
We don't tend to think of Virginia Woolf as a Magic Realist, but she certainly pulls off some Magic Realist tricks in this novel about a protagonist who changes genders over the course of a few centuries.

Jorge Luis Borges, "The Library of Babel" (1941)
This story will get your head spinning with its endless mazes of books.

Gabriel García Márquez, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (1955)
In this itty-bitty short story, we can already see Márquez's Magic Realist style developing.

Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959)
This one's about a boy living in Nazi Germany who communicates using his tin drum. Good luck, buster.

Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths (1962)
More of Borges' mind-bending literary acrobatics in this collection of short stories. It's called Labyrinths for a reason.

Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
It's the quintessential Magic Realist novel. Set in Colombia, it's got levitating priests, flower rain showers, and a baby born with a tail.

Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (1980)
Saleem Sinai, the narrator of Rushdie's novel, is born at the exact moment of India's independence. And did we mention that he can read minds?

Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (1982)
Allende does Magic Realism with a feminist twist in this novel about a family living through turbulent political times in South America.

Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984)
Canadian author Timothy Findley retells the story of Noah and the flood... but in this Magic Realist novel, Noah is the bad guy.

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
A baby ghost comes back to haunt her mother. What's up with that? You'll have to read the novel to find out.

Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses (1988)
Two friends survive a plane explosion only to find themselves transformed into a devil and an angel. This is just one of the many extraordinary things that happen in this famous Magic Realist novel.

Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate (1988)
Tita, the protagonist of Esquivel's novel, can infuse her emotions into the food she cooks. Sometimes it's tasty; sometimes it's nasty.

Isabel Allende, The Stories of Eva Luna (1989)
The amazing storyteller Eva Luna tells twenty-three fantastic stories in this collection.

Ben Okri, The Famished Road (1990)
Magic Realism done in Nigerian style, this baby is all about a spirit child who moves between the world of the living and the world of the spirits.

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
Yunior tells all about the curse that has plagued Oscar Wao's family in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Dominican author Junot Diaz.

Téa Obreht, The Tiger's Wife (2011)
This novel about a girl living in an unnamed Balkan country is full of magical stories, including one about a woman married to a tiger.

Secondary Resources

Maggie Ann Bowers, Magic(al) Realism (2004)
A great introduction to the Magic Realism movement, this book delves into the movement's origins in the visual arts and literature.

Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, eds, Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community (1995)
Here's a collection of essays that includes all the key critical texts that have attempted to define Magic Realism.

Susanna J. Sturgis, Tales of Magic Realism by Women: Dreams in a Minor Key (1991)
In this study, Sturgis looks at how women writers utilize Magic Realism to talk about themes related to gender.

Stephen M. Hart and Wen-chin Ouyang, eds, A Companion to Magical Realism (2005)
A great overview of the history and development of Magical Realism, including a discussion of all the big authors in the movement.

Lorna Robinson, Gabriel García Márquez and Ovid: Magical and Monstrous Realities (2013)
Magical Realism and mythology have a lot in common. Robinson looks specifically at the connections between Gabriel García Márquez's work and the work of the Roman poet Ovid.