Recently, #5OnMyTBR piqued my interest. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme. I thought I might as well do this, considering how incredibly long my to-be-read list has become these past few years (HAHA).
This week’s theme is magical realism/fabulism. I used to be apprehensive about magical realism. I admit struggled with the first works of magical realism I have read, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84. Both writers built such surrealistic worlds that blew my mind off, which was supposed to be a good thing. I nearly gave up on both writers and magical realism in general. However, I decided to give it a chance and I am glad I did for the genre has provided me some of my favorite reads like Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate (1989), Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981), and Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits (1982). Before I get lost in my thoughts, here are five works of magical realism I am looking forward to. Happy reading!
5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!
Nights at the Cirus by Angela Carter
Synopsis: “Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe’s capital, part swan… or all fake?
Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia.”
The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Synopsis: “This is what he remembers, as he sits by the ocean at the end of the lane:
A dead man on the back seat of the car, and warm milk at the farmhouse.
An ancient little girl, and an old woman who saw the moon being made.
A beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile.
And dark forces woken that were best left undisturbed.
They are memories hard to believe, waiting at the edges of things. The recollections of a man who thought he has lost but is now, perhaps, remembering a time when he was saved…”
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Synopsis: “In this celebrated novel, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison created a new way of rendering the contradictory nuances of black life in America. Its earthy poetic language and striking use of folklore and myth established Morrison as a major voice in contemporary fiction.
“Song of Solomon” begins with one of the most arresting scenes in our century’s literature: a dreamlike tableau depicting a man poised on a roof, about to fly into the air, while cloth rose petals swirl above the snow-covered ground and, in the astonished crowd below, one woman sings as another enters premature labor. The child born of that labor, Macon (Milkman) Dead, will eventually come to discover, through his complicated progress to maturity, the meaning of the drama that marked his birth. Toni Morrison’s novel is at once a romance of self-discovery, a retelling of the black experience in America that uncovers the inalienable poetry of that experience, and a family saga luminous in its depth, imaginative generosity, and universality. It is also a tribute to the ways in which, in the hands of a master, the ancient art of storytelling can be used to make the mysterious and invisible aspects of human life apparent, real, and firm to the touch.” (Source: Goodreads)
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Synopsis: “One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house – a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, but others are snide, angry, and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.
At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world. He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many. And he meets his very own Book – a talking thing – who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki – bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane, and heartbreaking.
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
Synopsis: ““From the age of twelve, the Baron Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo makes his home among ash, elm, magnolia, plum and almond. He walks through paths made from the twisted branches of olive, sleeps in a holly oak, bathes in a fountain hewn from poplar bark. An aerial library holds the books with which he educates himself in philosophy and mathematics. Suspended among the leaves, the Baron adventures with bandits and pirates, conducts a passionate love affair, and watches the Age of Enlightenment pass by beneath him.”