Travels to Latin America Through Magical Realism

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Last week, at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Downtown and Business, we held the first session of the new Spanish bookclub Circulo de Lectores, where we discussed Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold (DB 19297) is an excellent title for anyone starting off in the genre of Magical Realism.  Telling the unfolding events throughout the day that led a pair of brothers to murdering the man who took their sister’s virginity and caused her new, rich, and powerful husband to return her to her family (like damaged goods to a store).  The author paints a detailed picture of the locale and the personalities that make it up, and how all of them failed to stop the murder.  Garcia Marquez has a lovely prose style, and a knack for making the characters very real.  His prior journalism career comes through in this chronicle-like telling, with enchantment and symbolism woven in with the very real circumstances of the crime.

Another great book from this genre is The House of the Spirits (DB21524) by Isabelle Allende.  This book follows a family through 3 generations with the political backdrop of this unnamed country, that is eerily similar to Chile’s political past, the author having been born in exile from Chile after her uncle (the president) was killed in a CIA-backed coup.  Race, class, mysticism, family relations, love, and much more are covered in this multi-generational novel.

Like Water for Chocolate (DB36256) by Laura Esquivel is a sensuous way to indulge yourself in magical realism.   While cooking, Tita De La Garza’s emotions transform the people who eat her food.  Exquisite recipes and descriptions of food and love make this book a hedonist reader’s dream!

I know that these three authors and books are the prototypes for the Magical Realism genre.  I hope to explore more by all of these authors in the near future, as well as more of this genre!  What authors/books from like this do you enjoy?