What Is Magical Realism : Magical Realism Examples

What is Magical Realism: What is the debate?

(NOTE: this is a summary page for the novel 'Road Signs'.

For an in-depth exploration of the Magical Realism literary form -

click here )

Road Signs is a modern Magical Realism Story.

Road Signs by Jay Archer David is a contemporary entry into the magical realism genre. Rich with traditional storytelling elements found in escapism novels, it will attract then captivate you with its humor, suspense, intrigue, and mystery.

But a profundity works its way out of the text and Road Signs begins to engage you at a different level. Readers are recognizing it as a piece of serious literature. Road Signs delivers a unique experience in which a genuine page turner is curiously blended with allegory, poetic prose, and meditative depth.

Road Sign’s Synopsis

How do you know what's Real? After a near-fatal climbing accident, David tries to return home. But the Road is no longer what it seems. He’s pursued by a terrible secret.

The stark beauty of  Canyonlands, followed by the desolation of the Mexican Sonoran desert, become the setting for an inner and outer journey—on a mysterious road that connects people, desire, places, and time.

True to the genre of magical realism, Road Signs endeavors to help us name our world and see our place in it; telling its story from the perspective of someone who lives in our world, but experiences a different reality from the one we call objective.

“Road Signs has a very intimate way of making the magical real.”

Read the first chapters!


What is Magical Realism

"Magical Realism happens when a highly realistic setting is invaded by something 'too strange to believe ’.”   Matthew Strecher

Some incorrectly re-define Magical Realism as fantasy?

The magical realism definition has become somewhat diluted in recent times. When it first came into use it had specific meaning. It is a branch of serious fiction that is not escapism. Nowadays the term has been applied haphazardly, obscuring this wondrously distinctive branch of literature.

For example, the definition of magical realism has occasionally been misapplied to certain works of fantasy, perhaps in an attempt to add prestige. But most fantasy distinctly differs in that it creates new worlds where the presence of the supernatural is something to which special attention is drawn, whereas for magical realism writers, the presence of the supernatural is accepted in the ordinary.

So some caution should be used when searching for examples of magical realism.

Magical Realism Defined

The definition of magical realism includes narrative techniques that blur the distinction between fantasy and reality. It is characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Magic realism fuses lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with an examination of the character of human existence and an implicit criticism of social norms.

To further understand this magical realism definition let’s look at magical realism in fiction.

Elements of Magical Realism

Traditional magical realism literature has definable elements that works in this genre share. Magical realism authors put explicit techniques to very specialized use in order to explore viewpoint or worldview. Any examples of magical realism differ and will employ a smattering of those listed here.

Fantastical elements - fabulous and fantastical events are included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the 'reliable' tone of objective realistic report. Fantastic attributes are given to characters.

Authorial reticence - The narrator does not provide explanations about the credibility of events described in the text. Further, the narrator is indifferent; the story proceeds with "logical precision" as if nothing extraordinary took place.

Sense of mystery - Magic realist literature tends to read at a much intensified level.

Plenitude - an "extraordinary" abundance of disorienting detail.

Hybridity – mixing multiple planes of reality or inharmonious arenas of such opposites as urban and rural, and Western and indigenous.

Collective consciousness

Political or social critique - magic realism's ‘alternative world’ works to correct the reality of established viewpoints.

History of Magical Realism

“Magical Realism” first came into use to describe the work of certain Latin American writers. Criticism that Latin America is the birthplace and cornerstone of all things magic realist is quite common. But magic realism has since taken on internationalization: dozens of non-Hispanic writers are categorized as such, and many believe that Contemporary Magical Realism truly is an international commodity.

Magical Realism Examples

Examples of magical realism…

Guatemalan author William Spindler suggests that there are three kinds of magic realism, which however, are by no means incompatible:

European ‘metaphysical’ magic realism - with its sense of estrangement and the uncanny.

‘Ontological’ magical realism - characterized by ‘matter-of-factness ’in relating ‘inexplicable’ events.

‘Anthropological’ magical realism - where a Native worldview is set side by side to the Western rational worldview.

More on Magical Realism (in depth)

Teaching Magical Realism? Interested Book Clubs?

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What Is Magical Realism : Magical Realism Examples

This novel begins as an adventure,
but before it ends,
it will test the complacency of your perceptions,
stir your quest for meaning.

Straddling the line between fantasy and literary fiction is a genre known as magical realism. It combines the poetic punch of literature with surreal and otherworldly elements to make a genre far richer than either genre alone. Our editors were pleased to work with such a book recently, and we're even more pleased to announce that Jay Archer David's ROAD SIGNS is now available to the public. "There is a road between places, between things, peoples and times. It conceals magic, bestows power-but mostly we travel it with eyes closed. David wants to open his eyes and travel farther." This is the premise behind ROAD SIGNS, and we've invited Jay Archer David to share more about his book, and its creation.
(Read Interview)


Road Signs by Jay Archer David is a contemporary entry into the magical realism genre. It is masterfully constructed using traditional storytelling elements of humor, suspense, intrigue, and mystery - elements found commonly in escapism novels. These attract and captivate the reader.  But a profundity works its way through the text and Road Signs grows to engage the reader as piece of serious literature.  This leads to the unique reading experience; where a real page turner is curiously blended with allegory, poetic prose, and meditative depth.