Understanding the literary genre Magical Realism

Think of the expression "It is what it is" and you have the gist of the literary genre magical realism (also called magic realism). Magical realism presents the extraordinary as everyday occurrences. No difference is made between what is usually perceived as otherworldly, fantastical, or surreal and what is called the "real world." And you'll find no explanation for how or why the weirdness happens. (Wow! He's 153 years old! She can levitate! Water runs uphill!) It is what it is.

To understand magical realism, it helps to have a sense of mystery - an increased appreciation of the transcendent. In so doing, you'll savor works like the landmark One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez.

The basic structure of One Hundred Years chronicles the life of the Buendía family for over a century. It is the history of a family with inescapable repetitions, confusions, and progressive decline. Magical realism is manifested in a mythical city of mirrors, an insomnia plague, prophecy and ghosts, time displacement, a family curse, and more.

Other famous works of magical realism include Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits, Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, and Tony Morrison's Beloved.