Top 5 Saturday: Magical Realism

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! I might’ve missed last week’s topic but I will come back to it at some point 🙂 Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: magical realism!

I have a very love/hate relationship with magical realism! A lot of the time they’re misses for me and I find it weird because of how much I love fantasy. But in reality magical realism tends to overwhelm and confuse me, and I focus so much on trying to understand what’s happening that I stop enjoying it. That said, there are some definite winners such as The Shadow of the Wind, The Astonishing Colour of After, and Sourdough, which are some of my favourite books. I guess I’m just picky with magical realism? Here are five books from my TBR that have magical realism elements:

Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other ‘midnight’s children’ all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem’s story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.

I’ve wanted to read Midnight’s Children for a long time but a friend bought me a copy a few weeks ago! This book (or should I say its author) intimidates me. I’m scared it’ll go over my head!

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Exit West isn’t very long but for some reason it continues to sit on my physical TBR (and has already been there for a long as time). I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews for it!

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú–the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim–until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last. With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the family’s epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey’s Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere–and to risk it all–in the name of love. A true literary triumph, this novel confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting writers of our time.

I’ve only read one book by author Junot Díaz and it wasn’t a favourite but I’ve heard pretty great things about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; plus the audio is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda! *squeals*

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for A Monster Calls but I think it’s one of those books that will emotionally wreck me and I have to prepare myself well for it!

This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do.
The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.
Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honour and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

I’ve been wanting to read more by Denfeld ever since I read The Child Finder last year and loved it! I’ve heard The Enchanted is even better than that one and I’m looking forward to trying it 🙂

Upcoming Schedule:

  • 07 March 2020: Trilogies
  • 14 March 2020: Books with Beautiful Covers
  • 21 March 2020: Magical Realism
  • 28 March 2020: Murder Mystery

How do you feel about books with magical realism? Is it your jam or do you try to avoid books with it? Or do you have a love/hate like me?

23 thoughts on “Top 5 Saturday: Magical Realism

    1. LOL I totally get you! I love fantasy but when it comes to magical realism it’s SO hit/miss and it’s definitely more miss a lot of the time! It’s like my brain “does not compute” magical realism despite loving fantasy 🤣 I don’t blame you at all for steering clear! Haha

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    1. A lot of people have commented the same thing about that book. I feel like I need to gear myself up to read it and make sure I’m in the right mood/headspace 😅 I hope you enjoy The Astonishing Color of After ❤

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      1. Omg you have to read it! Let me know when you do because I really loved it. It’s not super fast paced or anything, but it’s just… magical in a way that just felt so real. The beginning took me a little bit to get into but I really fell in love with the story.

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  1. I usually love magical realism, though sometimes it doesn’t sit quite right with me if it isn’t done well. Oscar Wao and Midnight’s Children have both been on my TBR for a really, really long time–to the former, like you, I’ve read another book by the author (This Is How You Lose Her) and thought it was just okay, but this one sounds better; to the latter, I loved Quichotte last year so I think that, at the very least, I’ll still love Rushdie’s style if that stays similar!

    Great list, as always. I’ve been absent from the blog world for a while, but it’s good to get back and see that your old “regulars” are still excellent 😊

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    1. I thought This is How You Lose Her was just okay as well but I’ve heard a lot of people rave about Diaz so I’m keen to try at least one more book by him to see if I’ll enjoy it! I’ve heard some really good things about Quichotte so that’s another Rushdie that’s on my list lol I hope you enjoy both these books as well, Kathryn 😀

      Glad to see you back on the blogosphere even if for just a comment 😉 Hope you’re doing okay and are staying safe and healthy!

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      1. Haha one of my first posts on my blog was an ARC review of Quichotte, if you’re interested in that 😂

        And yes, I’m so glad to be back! Even just getting a couple posts up has me feeling accomplished. My state has a shelter-in-place order now, so no work for me for the time being (at either of my jobs–the law firm doesn’t let interns work remote, and schools are closed so I can’t substitute teach), which means more time for reading, writing, commenting, and all that fun stuff. Definitely doing the best I can to stay home, wash hands more than usual, minimize going near people, etc.

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