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Magical Realism Books You Need To Read

From memorable classics like The House of the Spirits to onscreen wonders like “The Shape of Water,” magical realism offers audiences the opportunity to look at the world from a different angle. The familiar becomes strange, and the strange in return becomes ordinary. Through study and innovation, literary greats like Margaret Atwood, Gloria Naylor, and Toni Morrison and newer visionaries like Ramona Ausubel, Lesley Nneka Arimah, and Anjali Sachdeva examine the complexities of being human by building worlds that are unexpected yet resonate deeply with readers. Through the unfamiliar, deeper truths are revealed. Magical realism — along with fabulism and speculative fiction — is a genre whose narratives foster empathy, awe, and compassion by challenging readers to view the impossible as possible. Consider this reading list an invitation to see the world through a different lens, an invitation to be transformed by the page.

  1. 1
    Awayland Book Cover Picture
    Awayland Book Cover Picture

    Awayland

    by Ramona Ausubel

    Much like 201’s A Guide to Being Born, Ramona Ausube’s latest collection is a mesmerizing portrait of identity, desire, and belonging with a fabulist twist. Through Ausubel’s luminous stories, readers are transported to the Bay of Hungers, the Cape of Persistent Hope, the Lonesome Flats, and the Dream Isles. As each story unfolds, the geography of Ausube’s collection becomes an arresting metaphor for life off the page. In Awayland, readers will see themselves reflected in the yearning of a Cyclops in search of love online, the gratitude of ancient mummified animals, and the grief of a young woman as she watches her mother literally disappear. Emotionally gripping and lyrical, Awayland is an immersive and noteworthy read that you’ll want to devour in under a day.
    Awayland Book Cover Picture
    Awayland Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  2. 2
    All the Names They Used for God Book Cover Picture
    All the Names They Used for God Book Cover Picture

    All the Names They Used for God

    by Anjali Sachdeva

    Anjali Sachdev’s debut collection is a force to be reckoned with. Engrossing from start to finish, All the Names They Used for God bridges the gap between speculative fiction, magical realism, and mythology with ease. Through a host of hauntingly relatable characters brought to life by Sachdev’s subtle yet searing prose, this collection confronts the joys and harm of intimacy, the way loss can change a person, and the existential weight of mortality. Whether it be a mermaid caught in a fisherma’s net or the aftermath of an uncanny alien invasion, each page of Sachdev’s collection is infused with undeniable truth.
    All the Names They Used for God Book Cover Picture
    All the Names They Used for God Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  3. 3
    Beloved Book Cover Picture
    Beloved Book Cover Picture

    Beloved

    by Toni Morrison

    Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved, Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present.
    Beloved Book Cover Picture
    Beloved Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

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  4. 4
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove Book Cover Picture
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove Book Cover Picture

    Vampires in the Lemon Grove

    by Karen Russell

    Vampires in the Lemon Grove is a stirringly imaginative short story collection by MacArthur Fellow, Karen Russell. Despite only featuring eight stories, Russell’s seamless narratives are expansive and cinematic due to her ability to craft characters and worlds that are equally strange, compelling, and urgent. In “Reeling for the Empire,” young women are tricked into drinking a powerful tea that transforms them into human-silkworm hybrids, making them vulnerable to being exploited by heartlessly greedy men. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979” a teenage boy comes of age as his town is overrun with seagulls, and a group of adolescent bullies are forced to face the consequences of their actions in “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis.” Whichever story you begin with, Vampires in the Lemon Grove will renew your faith in fictio’s ability to enthrall.
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove Book Cover Picture
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  5. 5
    Get in Trouble Book Cover Picture
    Get in Trouble Book Cover Picture

    Get in Trouble

    by Kelly Link

    The award-winning Kelly Link continues to astonish readers with her 2015 short story collection Get In Trouble. A reminder of why Lin’s name has become synonymous with magical realism, Get in Trouble turns the familiar on its head in a refreshingly unexpected way. Like an alchemist, Link transforms the ordinary into the otherworldly with each vivid sentence. The pages of Get in Trouble are a masterful balance between humor, horror, and folklore where romances coincide with phantasms, evil twins are real, and any messages divined from a Ouija board should be taken with a grain (or two) of salt. From beginning to end, Lin’s countless strengths as a storyteller shine brightly. It’s difficult to read this collection without getting swept away.
    Get in Trouble Book Cover Picture
    Get in Trouble Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  6. 6
    Land of Love and Drowning Book Cover Picture
    Land of Love and Drowning Book Cover Picture

    Land of Love and Drowning

    by Tiphanie Yanique

    Tiphanie Yaniqu’s dazzling Land of Love and Drowning follows the descendants of Captain Owen Arthur Bradshaw — whose sunken ship and destructive habits alter the fate of his family — as they grapple with the past and the present. As adults, Eeona, Annette, and their half-brother Jacob are confronted with their inner demons as their famil’s history overshadows the path each sibling has chosen for themselves. Alongside the mesmerizing saga of a family trying to make sense of their collective past, Yanique intertwines Caribbean lore, tales of the Duene, and a timely critique of colonialism with ceaseless heart and vibrant prose. As satisfying as it is beautiful, Yanqiue’s novel is a deserving successor to the literary tradition of Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, and Bessie Head.
    Land of Love and Drowning Book Cover Picture
    Land of Love and Drowning Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  7. 7
    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky Book Cover Picture
    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky Book Cover Picture

    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

    by Lesley Nneka Arimah

    Lesley Nneka Arimah’s award-winning debut collection What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky is an undeniably satisfying tour-de-force. In each story, Arima’s protagonists search for wholeness in worlds where infants made of hair can break a mothe’s heart, the bodies of men fall from the heavens, and linearity is obsolete. Every story in this collection should be revisited and enjoyed often. A shining example of the power of subverting convention as a way to reveal and confront the realities of our contemporary moment, Arimah’s fiction will make you view the world around you with a new sense of wonder.
    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky Book Cover Picture
    What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  8. 8
    Kafka on the Shore Book Cover Picture
    Kafka on the Shore Book Cover Picture

    Kafka on the Shore

    by Haruki Murakami

    Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, an aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is a truly remarkable journey.
    Kafka on the Shore Book Cover Picture
    Kafka on the Shore Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  9. 9
    The Melancholy of Anatomy Book Cover Picture
    The Melancholy of Anatomy Book Cover Picture

    The Melancholy of Anatomy

    by Shelley Jackson

    For readers who love language as much as they love unpredictable plotlines, Shelley Jackso’s collection is a literary godsend. Published in 2002, the stories in The Melancholy of Anatomy thematically pay homage to the 17th century concept of the four humors: Choleric, Melancholic, Phlegmatic and Sanguine. In Jackso’s unique and unnerving world, a woman is compelled and consumed by an egg, a fetus becomes a spiritual leader, the streets of London are covered with menstrual blood, and nerves are manufactured in a factory. A visceral exploration of embodiment and identity, her work will bring to mind the innovative wit of writers like Clarice Lispector and Helen Oyeyemi. The Melancholy of Anatomy is the perfect companion to Jackso’s equally haunting novel Riddance.
    The Melancholy of Anatomy Book Cover Picture
    The Melancholy of Anatomy Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $14.95

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  10. 10
    The Grass Dancer Book Cover Picture
    The Grass Dancer Book Cover Picture

    The Grass Dancer

    by Susan Power

    An epic in its own right, The Grass Dancer by Susan Power is a fascinating and heartrending novel about family, trauma, love, and resilience. Power’ novel takes place on a reservation in North Dakota where generations of Dakota Sioux wrestle with the weight of history, the sting of poverty, the unpredictable nature of romance, and the limitless power of ancestral magic. With riveting language and depth, Power’ narrative deftly intertwines centuries of struggle and triumph with an immediacy that sinks deep into the hearts and minds of her audience. The Grass Dancer is undeniably an under-celebrated classic deserving of praise.
    The Grass Dancer Book Cover Picture
    The Grass Dancer Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

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