I know that there are differences between fantasy and magic realism, but can I ask questions concerning specific works of magic realism here?

The best place would be a Books/Literature SE site, but since there isn't any right now, I thought I could ask here

In case someone doesn't know, here is what magic realism is, per wikipedia:

Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.

For instance, can I ask a question about Haruki Murakami's 1Q84? If someone reads it, they find out that there are many fantasy elements in the work.

  • 2
    Could you define magic realism?
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Feb 20, 2015 at 13:23
  • 1
    As much as I like the writings of Gabriel García Márquez, they don't feel on topic here. But that's just, like, my opinion, man.
    – SQB
    Feb 20, 2015 at 13:38
  • 2
    As a general rule-of-thumb, I would prefer to see us err on the side of "inclusive" rather than "exclusive".
    – Joe L.
    Feb 22, 2015 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


A general question about magic realism (as an overarching topic) would probably be too broad.

A question about the use of magic within a specific universe would be well within the scope of the site. As Terry Pratchett famously said,

"[saying that you write magic realism] is like a polite way of saying you write fantasy and is more acceptable to certain people -- and who, on the whole doesn't care that much."

  • So, I can ask about Murakami's 1Q84 that has many fantasy elements in it,right? Feb 20, 2015 at 14:24
  • 2
    @Shevliaskovic - A cursory reading of the wiki synopsis suggests that it would be perfectly well on topic; parallel worlds, telekenesis, strange unearthly creatures, etc.
    – Valorum
    Feb 20, 2015 at 14:48

Apparently, it is.

According to Wikipedia,

Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.

The term is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe."

The more informal description at TVTropes reads

It definitely isn't Science Fiction and not quite Urban Fantasy and yet... stuff happens.

So it's a realistic setting, with elements of magic. According to this definition, Groundhog Day would qualify. We have questions about that: .
An example given at TVTropes is Twin Peaks. We have questions about that: .
Another common example is Pan's Labyrinth. Again, we have questions about that: .

So it would seem that yes, it is on topic.

  • 1
    Frankly the idea of "magic realism" opens more questions than it answers. If magic somehow exists, how does it work and why isn't it used for everything?
    – Valorum
    Feb 21, 2015 at 10:11
  • @Richard Because it's just a single magical element, that is taken for granted. (But perhaps we should take this to Science Fiction & Fantasy Chat).
    – SQB
    Feb 21, 2015 at 17:22
  • @Richard Ask someone who uses magic. You'll get different answers, but overall, magic is used quite a bit, but not for everything because it doesn't (or because it isn't) everything, per se. Lame example - magic might exist but be hard to use and only do certain limited things.
    – Dronz
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:02
  • @Dronz - Magic in a purely rational/realist environment is a very hard one to pull off. You'd presumably have entire universities devoted to studying it, trying to replicate it
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:03
  • @Richard There are societies of people who believe in magic, study it, create course programs to teach it, write books about it, practice it, use it all the time. I know quite a few people and societies like this. I know rational scientists who have changed professions for spiritual magic practices of various types, because of what they have experienced.
    – Dronz
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:07
  • @Dronz - The reason I know that magic isn't real is because if it was, scientists wouldn't bloody shut up about it. Ever.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:09
  • @Richard Scientists sometimes take a while. See though Cambridge scientist Rupert Sheldrake who is publishing quite convincing studies and books showing animals and humans exhibit what seem to be long-distance telepathic abilities and morphic fields. Most of the magic I've heard evidence for tends to be about intuition, consciousness, and spirituality, and not fireballs, teleportation, or the other flashy movie-type magic.
    – Dronz
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:23
  • @Dronz - Scientists were excited (for months) about the fact that something might be able to move one billionth of a second faster than lightspeed. The idea that magic exists (something able to exert a force that would be trillions if not tens of trillions of times larger) frankly defies belief. q.v. James Randi.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2015 at 0:26

I think the question begs further definition.

If by "magic realism" you mean magic that doesn't break the readers willing suspension of disbelief - then it is an entirely subjective & opinion driven answer.

If by "magic realism" you mean a fictional universe in which magic obeys laws specified by the author then it would be possible to pose specific questions about those rules to see how they might apply in a specific situation, and have a reasonable chance of referenced answer.

I suppose the best measure might be whether the person writing the answer can provide a reference to support their opinion. If not, then it's just an opinion and probably the question isn't a good one.

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