What’s On the Bookshelf: 3 books to add a little magic into your life
Add a dash of sparkle to your life…
Sometimes the best way to understand reality is with a bit of magic. That is just what the genre of magical realism helps us do. To help add a little extra sparkle to your weekend, our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation have put together a list of stories by authors who showcase the best the genre has to offer, by making the unbelievable believable.
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
In his anthology The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu uses magic, science and fantasy to delve into issues of cultural identity in an increasingly western world. In the bittersweet titular story of this collection, The Paper Menagerie, Jack, who is the son of a white father and an immigrant Chinese mother, struggles with his identity as an American. After being teased by his schoolmate for his heritage, Jack tries to distance himself from everything Chinese including his mother until all that remains is his memory of his mother’s little menagerie created out of origami which she had somehow magically breathed life into.
The other stories in the collection are equally touching and if you don’t want to take our word for it, the story has won not only the Hugo Award but it’s also taken home a Nebula Award.
Funes, the Memorious by Jorge Luis Borges
How many times have you been frustrated by your inability to remember details? This isn’t the issue for Ireneo Funes who, after a bad fall off his horse, miraculously develops the supernatural ability to remember everything in perfect detail. Unfortunately, and ironically, there is nothing too magical about his reality because his ability to recall every detail impedes his perception and thought process.
Funes, the Memorious is one of the many stories collected in the anthology aptly named Ficciones (aka “Fiction”), by celebrated Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The story itself was first published in 1942 in Spanish. Considered one of the founders of magic realism, Borges, with his extensive knowledge of language and philosophy, touches upon the subject of memory and the consequences of having an unlimited capacity for it in this intriguing tale.
Kino by Haruki Murakami
If you just haven’t been able to digest Haruki Murakami’s strange and bewildering works no matter how many times it has been recommended to you, you would perhaps be handle them in bite-sized chunks in the form of his short stories. His melancholic yet humorous short story collection, Men without Women deals with the lives of men who, as stated in the title, find themselves without women. One of our favourites, Kino, is about a recently divorced man who opens a bar, only to find his life suddenly filled with small inexplicable events. With elements of magical realism that are typical of Murakami’s usual style interspersed all throughout, it is a beautiful story about experiencing loss and the journey that precedes its eventual acceptance.
If you enjoyed today’s variety of book recommendations from Zainab Khaleel, the Sponsorship Manager and VoFG Brand Manager at the Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should check out her other suggestions on their blog. For more recommendations, tune in to their podcast, the Boundless Book Club and follow them on social media and YouTube to enjoy full sessions, author interviews, fun reels – everything in the name of books!