Recently published/forthcoming 2019
Sue Rainsford, Follow Me to Ground (Doubleday, 2019)
Guardian Review ‘A unique, monstrous creation … Horror, feminism and folklore collide in an unnerving story of a non-human father and daughter who work as healers’ (Justine Jordan)
‘Several novels recently have pushed beyond realism and enlisted fairytale and folklore to explore the violence done to female minds and bodies: Daisy Johnson’s mythic swirl in Everything Under, Sophie Mackintosh’s otherworldly dystopia The Water Cure, Emma Glass’s language-collapsing Peach. Refreshingly, Rainsford’s narrative is more interested in self-actualisation than in female violation. Perhaps the book Follow Me to Groundis most kin to is Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, another tale of transformation that is fascinated both by female flesh and by what it might mean to escape it. Bodies are everywhere in Rainsford’s novel: seeping, dribbling, twitching, staining the furniture and the ever-growing mounds of dirty linen. They display both the shock of their abject nakedness – “belts of fat falling under their own slack weight and pooling round her waist” – and the further revelation of their glistening interiors.’
Karen Russell, Orange World (Chatto and Windus, 2019)
Guardian Review ‘A stunningly weird collection in which dark ecological anxiety is seldom far from the surface’ (Daisy Johnson)
‘I first encountered Karen Russell when I was a student, hunting for short-story writers in the library. Finding a copy of her debut collectionSt Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, which was longlisted for the 2007 Guardian first book award, I took it home on a whim. With some books you begin a relationship with an author that will continue hungrily through everything they write. Russell’s writing inhabits its own universe, with metaphor and simile taking us to strange new places; we are led by the hand and find ourselves completely submerged, only later to come to, groggily, in our own world. In Russell’s second collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, women are silkworms and dead presidents live in the bodies of horses. In her novel Swamplandia! the Floridian swamps teem with alligator wrestlers; in her novella Sleep Donation, sleep is a sought-after commodity. Orange World is Russell’s third collection of short stories and it contains all her trademark signs of weirdness: a boy falls in love with a bog girl found preserved in the ground, a land on the watery edge of apocalypse is explored by a woman in a gondola, tornadoes are harnessed and sold at auction like cattle. The worlds of the stories are entirely convincing, small pockets in which it is possible to become lost.’
‘Along with other US short-story writers such as Kelly Link and Lauren Groff, Russell inhabits landscape entirely, bringing the Floridian humidity to every sentence. Where other writers shift towards the novel, aside from the wonderful Swamplandia! she remains steadfastly a short-story writer, and Orange World demonstrates how her attention to this tricky craft has paid off. Though her characters are living their own magic-realist, fabulist lives, it is possible to see ourselves within them, peering out.’
Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
‘Since 2000 the World’s only continuous survey of literary magical realism’
Tamara K. Sellman Founding Editor and Publisher
“While I agree that wholesale classification of literature is of limited intellectual use or is mostly the domain of book marketeers, I think defining it still makes for an interesting inquiry. Magical realism is often confused with other genres (i.e. fantasy, speculative fiction, science fiction, experimental writing, surrealism). The term itself arrived by way of the canvas with Germany’s post-Expressionist paintings. I think many will agree that magical realism as a literary form yields a painterly quality which distinguishes it from other forms of literary realism.
“But to understand magical realism is to take into account its many influences: cultural, political, communitarian, spiritual. I think, too, that magical realism is a story venue for voices outside the mainstream. I have always been interested in outsiderism, which may explain my fascination with magical realism, as it often brings to us marginal characters, ideas, places—not marginal in the sense that they are lesser, but in the sense that they are, perhaps, extraordinary.” .
F I C T I O N 2 0 0 5 – 2 0 0 6
Stories of Magical Realism
s t o r i e s ~ e x c e r p t s ~ f l a s h e s
F O R Y O U R I N F O R M A T I O N
Marginalia Glossary of Terms
a l i t e r a r y r e f e r e n c e
Literary glossary listing unfamiliar terms and brief biographies of literary figures with established connections to magical realism. We encourage anyone wishing a better understanding of magical realism to peruse these definitions. By reading them, you might very well come away with a more focused understanding of this writing tradition.
100 Must Reads of Magical Realism
‘The conflicting definitions of magical realism emerge from the reality that what some scholars call “magical realism” is actually a mash-up of literatures that are difficult to categorize. Magical realism as a genre should be easily defined: a movement of Latin American authors, led by such greats as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, and Isabel Allende, that seems to mix myth and reality in order to battle back against the staunch realism of Western literature. It is inherently postcolonial.
Other cultures have had similar or influenced movements of magical realism. Authors such as Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Yaa Gyasi, and Arundhati Roy tell the stories of the oppressed through this mix of reality and non-reality. The Western canon is obsessed with realism, but that’s not how so many live their lives: to so many, fantastic things happen everyday, both horrible things and incredible things, and the magical realist tales they tell may seem fantastic but are, inherently, grounded in what happened … Some of these books have just a single moment of surrealism and are by Western authors; others are surrealist or fabulist; others are classics of the magical realist genre itself, and their pages live and breathe magical realism.’