Did you know a literary genre is basically a style of writing? It’s a label that describes what a reader can expect in a work of literature, and it’s used to group together works that are similar in style or subject matter. Literature is generally categorized as either non-fiction (true, factual information) or fiction (stories made up by the author), and the genre further describes a subset of those broad categories. Many genres are very popular and well-known, such as biographies, history, historical fiction, mystery, romance, horror, and science fiction. However, there are other less well-known genres that you might really enjoy, and we’re going to explore some of those genres over the next few months!
The first genre we’ll look at is magical realism -- a genre that blends fantastical elements with everyday occurrences. In this genre, magical or supernatural elements are presented in an otherwise real-world setting. It’s different from science fiction or pure fantasy in that the stories take place in a world that is essentially our own, with just a few magical elements included that don’t exist in our reality but are accepted as fact within the context of the story. By contrast, sci-fi also describes an altered world, but the alterations from our current world are explained by scientific developments. Fantasy stories, on the other hand, take place in imaginary worlds entirely different from our own.
Magical realism and fantasy can sometimes be confused, and the lines between them can be blurry. The biggest difference between the two is that fantasy takes place in a world other than our own, whereas magical realism focuses on ordinary people going about their ordinary lives in an ordinary world. Everything is normal, except for one or two elements that go beyond the realm of possibility as we know it. If there’s a magic system with rules and explanations, the book will most likely fall into the fantasy genre. Magical realism is intentionally vague; people don’t know why or how the magic works, it just does. Magical realism looks at the unexplainable events in peoples’ lives, making the extraordinary and fantastical almost believable. In the end, you may not be sure what’s real and what isn’t, and the stories can reveal the magic in the world around us.
Real-world setting + fantastical elements = magical realism
Be sure to check back in the coming months as we look into other genres that might pique your interest! In the meantime, you can explore some of these magical realism books: