Image above created by Stefano Vitale for Broadway musical production of Like Water for Chocolate.

This is the fifth in a five-part series on Magical Realism. If you haven’t read the previous posts, I recommend starting with Part 1: What Is Magical Realism?

“When you throw everything up in the air anything becomes possible.”

–Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

 

MAGICAL REALISM IN BOOKS AND FILM

There are myriad books and movies that can qualify as magical realism. (Plus some titles that are not quite magic realism but close, as explained in Part 2: What Magical Realism Isn’t. I’ll try to label those when I come across them.)

This list is most definitely a work in progress and not comprehensive. There’s no way I can find every example of magical realism in film and literature without help, so please chime in in the comments with other magic realism titles you are aware of. (Links will be forthcoming when I have time to sit down and add them all, aka, sometime in the nebulous future.)

BOOKS

These are books written for adult readers. Children’s books are grouped in a separate category, below.

Sherman Alexie

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Sarah Addison Allen

  • Garden Spells
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon
  • Peach Keeper

Isabelle Allende

  • The House of Spirits*
  • Eva Luna

“She sowed in my mind the idea that reality is not only what we see on the surface; it has a magical dimension as well and, if we so desire, it is legitimate to enhance it and color it to make our journey through life less trying.”

–Isabel Allende, Eva Luna

Christina Lopez Barrio

  • The House of Impossible Loves

Brunonia Barry

  • The Lace Reader

Aimee Bender

  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Jorge Luis Borges

  • Ficciones

Italo Calvino

  • Invisible Cities
  • If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Angela Carter

  • Nights at the Circus
  • Wise Children

Michael Chabon

  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

Paulo Coelho

  • The Alchemist
  • I Sat Down by the River Piedra and Wept

Junot Diaz

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

  • The Mistress Of Spices*

Laura Esquivel

  • Like Water for Chocolate*

F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*

Jonathan Safran Foer

  • Everything Is Illuminated

Neil Gaiman

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Günter Grass

  • The Tin Drum

Joanne Harris

  • Blackberry Wine
  • Chocolate*

Mark Helprin

  • Winter’s Tale

Alice Hoffman

  • Practical Magic*
  • Green Angel

Zora Neale Hurston

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God 

Kimberly Karalius

  • Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters

Sue Monk Kidd

  • The Secret Life of Bees*

Stephen King

  • The Green Mile*

Gabriel García Márquez

  • Love in the Time of Cholera
  • One-Hundred Years of Solitude

Yann Martel

  • The Life of Pi*

David Mitchell

  • Cloud Atlas*

Erin Morgenstern

  • The Night Circus

Toni Morrison

  • Song of Solomon
  • Beloved

Haruki Murakami

  • 1Q8
  • Kafka on the Shore

Gloria Naylor

  • Mama Day

Audrey Niffenegger

  • The Time-Traveler’s Wife*

Téa Obreht

  • The Tiger’s Wife

Ann Patchett

  • The Magician’s Assistant

Thomas Pynchon

  • Gravity’s Rainbow

Salman Rushdie

  • The Satanic Verses
  • Midnight’s Children

“What’s real and what’s true aren’t necessarily the same.”

–Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Patrick Süskind

  • Perfum*

Daniel Wallace

  • Big Fish*

Carlos Ruiz Zafrón

  • The Shadow of the Wind

 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

This includes authors of middle grade and young adult fiction, which fall under the umbrella of children’s literature.

Kathi Appelt

Francesca Lia Block

  • Weetzie Bat

Sharon Creech

Roald Dahl

  • The BFG*
  • Matilda*
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory*

Kate DiCamillo

  • Tiger Rising

Lindsay Eager

  • Hour of the Bees

A.S. King

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

  • Summer of the Mariposas

Hannah Moskowitz

  • Teeth

E. Nesbit

  • Five Children and It*

Louis Sachar

  • Holes*

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  • The Little Prince*

Rebecca Stead

  • When You Reach Me

 

*These books have also been made into movies and/or tv shows that are magical realism. But note that not all adaptations are.

 

FILM

Amélie

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Big Fish+

Chocolat+

Field of Dreams

Five Children and It+

Holes+

The House of Spirits+

Kill Bill

Like Water for Chocolate+

Midnight in Paris

The Mistress of Spices+

Mulholland Drive

The Natural+

O Brother, Where Art Thou?+ (If you weren’t aware, the film is based upon Homer’s The Odyssey. Mind = blown.)

Pan’s Labyrinth

Practical Magic+

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World+ (graphic novel)

The Secret Life of Bees+

The Time Traveler’s Wife+

What Dreams May Come

Animated films by Hayao Miyazaki

 

TELEVISION

Due South

Haven+ (The Stephen King short story this TV series is based upon, The Colorado Kid, doesn’t have any fantastical elements.)

Lost (Lost is somewhat of a mixed bag, as it includes elements of sci-fi, surrealism, supernatural, and a host of other subgenres and tropes, but running through it all is a sense that there is something more, in this case sinister, to the world in which the characters live, and it is always creeping at the edges of life on the island.)

Northern Exposure

Pushing Daisies

Twin Peaks

 

+Adapted from a book.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Magic Realism Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism

TV Tropes http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicRealism

What Is Magical Realism, Really? essay by Bruce Holland Rogers http://www.writing-world.com/sf/realism.shtml

Alberto Rios supplemental material to accompany his course on Magical Realism http://www.public.asu.edu/~aarios/magicalrealism

Magical Realism Links: http://faculty.scf.edu/jonesj/lit2090/magicalrealismlinks.htm

Additional links: http://www.public.asu.edu/~aarios/magicalrealism/index_files/Page390.htm

Part 1: What Is Magical Realism?

Part 2: What Magical Realism ISN’T

Part 3: Elements of Magical Realism

Part 4: What Magical Realism Is To Me

Part 5: Magical Realism In Books and Film

Add to this list:

If you know of other books or movies with elements of magical realism, please mention them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list (with the caveat that I’ll vet those that aren’t accurately labeled MR, since so many are miscategorized, hence the reason for this series). To keep this list somewhat manageable, I’ll be limiting it to traditionally published titles (i.e., books that have been published by an established press that prints in hard copy, not just POD and/or e-only). If you’re an author whose published works include magical realism titles, feel free to mention your books in the comments, keeping in mind that I’ll delete comments that become too self-promoting.

Also, feel free to correct me if I get any of these wrong. Sadly, I have not had a chance to read/watch everything on this list, so I’ve had to trust lists and recommendations from other people, which aren’t always accurate. #lifegoals

Also also, please do not pitch your book or manuscript to me here. If you want to query me with your magical realism title (after reading this entire series of posts to determine whether your book actually is magic realism, of course), you can find my submission guidelines here. But note that I only represent books for kids and teens.