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magical realism/surreal books by women
December 29, 2013 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I love Kelly Link, Jeannette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Karen Russell, and Aimee Bender. I would like to read more books like this. Women authors only please, and I'd also love to have more queer and of color authors in my library. Thanks !
posted by dysh to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 98 users marked this as a favorite
 
Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:27 AM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Angela Carter. Start with Wise Children and Nights At The Circus, IYAM.
posted by Frowner at 11:28 AM on December 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, have you considered Helen Oyeyemi? Her book Mr. Fox made a big splash last year. I've bought it but haven't read it - it looks really good. She also has a new one.
posted by Frowner at 11:30 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Try Kate Atkinson, especially her earlier books like "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" and "Human Croquet."
posted by nkknkk at 11:36 AM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


You might like Ann-Marie McDonald's work if you haven't tried it yet - Fall on Your Knees is a good place to start.
posted by northernish at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can't link since I'm on my mobile, but I recommend The Magic Touch by Rachel Simon.
posted by Anima Mundi at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2013


Yes, Kate Atkinson! Life After Life, which just came out this year, was a pretty surreal and engaging novel.
posted by theraflu at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2013


+1 for Helen Oyeyemi. I loved Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, but I wouldn't put it in the same box as Kelly Link or Karen Russell.

The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa.
posted by Jeanne at 11:40 AM on December 29, 2013


You might like the work of Banana Yoshimoto. Kitchen is a great book to start with.
posted by Mchelly at 11:42 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Banana Yoshimoto -- I love her short story collection Lizard, but if you prefer longer, Asleep and Kitchen both have connected novellas.

N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler are more in the mindbending speculative fiction than in magic realism. If you think you'd like that, I'd start at The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Dawn, respectively.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:43 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jamaica Kincaid! At the Bottom of the River lives in the space between prose and poetry, and it's glorious.
posted by jesourie at 11:52 AM on December 29, 2013


Ellen Kushner is most famous for pioneering the fantasy of manners subgenre, but you might like her myth/folklore-inspired work. Start with her short stories (some are available free online) or, for a novel, try The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (her wife).
posted by serelliya at 11:56 AM on December 29, 2013


You must absolutely read Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt series. Don't get turned off by the fact that it's a detective series--it's a mystery the way Twin Peaks is a mystery. These books are deeply dark, weird, and rich.
posted by elizeh at 12:04 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


In addition to the great suggestions in this thread, I'll suggest Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, especially Mistress of Spices, and absolutely anything by the very talented Marie NDiaye.
posted by redfishbluefish at 12:11 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


+1 Octavia Butler. I agree that her work falls closer to speculative fiction, but she should not be missed.
posted by ovenmitt at 12:16 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Barbara Comyns. A wonderful and often overlooked writer. Used copies can be pricey but a lot of libraries have her books; that's where I discovered her.
posted by OolooKitty at 12:19 PM on December 29, 2013


Here are some books and authors that have the same "feel" to me as Atwood, Winterson, Russell, etc.

Gwyneth Jones, maybe starting with the Bold As Love series.

Meredith Anne Pierce - the Darkangel series.

Genevieve Valentine -- Mechanique.

Catherynne Valente -- I'd start with Palimpsest.
posted by kyrademon at 12:40 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Laura Esquivel's *Like Water for Chocolate* - a tale of bittersweet love on a turn-of-the-century Mexican hacienda, with monthly recipes

Isak Dinesen's (pen name of Karen Blixen) Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard
posted by Atrahasis at 12:50 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did anyone mention Katherine Dunn's Geek Love?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 12:52 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just finished Like Water for Chocolate, so that was going to be my recommendation. Ditto the mentions of Valente, Carter, Allende, Yoshimoto, Dinesen, and Butler. (I love this kind of work too.)

I'm not sure if all of her work fits, but A.S. Byatt often gets categorized as a magical realist. I haven't read Helen Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni myself yet, but from the word-of-mouth I've heard, I think it fits your criteria.

In addition to those, I'd recommend checking out Theodora Goss, Elizabeth Hand, Margo Lanagan, and M. Rickert. Fantastical, rich, and lovely, the lot of them.
posted by xenization at 1:12 PM on December 29, 2013


Margo Lanagan, for sure!
posted by wsquared at 1:22 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing Angela Carter. Nalo Hopkinson might also be of interest.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:39 PM on December 29, 2013


How about Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa. Excellent in the original Spanish (which is titled Treinta anos - 30 years), not sure about the English translation but worth a try.
posted by Temeraria at 1:59 PM on December 29, 2013


Alice Sheldon, absolutely. (She wrote most of her best work under the name James Tiptree, Jr.)

Try "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" and then see if you can resist finding more. I've found that most of her stories start as "realistic" sci fi, and then the ground shifts under your feet.

Also seconding M. Rickert.
posted by kestralwing at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2013


Nalo Hopkinson writes some magical realist work about the Caribbean and Toronto, along with more classic fantasy.
posted by yarntheory at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just finished Bellman & Black, Diane Setterfield's second novel. It's all kinds of delicious magical realism.

I don't know that it's magical realism per se, more pure fantasy perhaps, but you might also like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Susanna Clarke's short stories are also lovely and whimsical.

And finally, for post-apocalyptic African magical realism, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.
posted by mibo at 3:07 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(the late) Doris Lessing.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:42 PM on December 29, 2013


some of Louise Erdrich might work for you. Beet Queen is a good one to start with.
posted by sulaine at 3:49 PM on December 29, 2013


I'm on my phone, so apologies for the lack of links:
Angela Carter
Kate Bernheimer
Rikki Ducornet
Alissa Nutting
Some of AS Byatt's short fiction
Shelley Jackson
Definetly Catherynne Valente, especially "Deathless"
posted by Kitty Stardust at 5:28 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joy Williams and Lydia Davis.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2013


Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger fits the bill. Her other books are great too, historical rather than surreal though.
posted by Cuke at 7:28 PM on December 29, 2013


Seconding Louise Erdrich. I really liked Love Medicine.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:59 PM on December 29, 2013


Gail Anderson-Dargatz's The Cure for Death by Lightning is sort of rural-Canada-Magic-Realist-Lite.
posted by Rumple at 7:59 PM on December 29, 2013


Terri Windling - The Wood Wife. Fantastic.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 9:56 PM on December 29, 2013


Just read Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and it was exactly the touch of magical realism/surrealism that I wanted out of life.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:06 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anna Maria Ortese is one of the first names that comes to mind when I think of magical realism. It seems like few of her novels are available in english (if you can read italian that's not a problem) but in most of her works you will find fascinating, complex (a la Borges) and disturbing (if you dislike Kafka, better stay away) magical elements.
posted by antares at 9:55 AM on December 30, 2013


Straight-up surrealism: The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington.
posted by wavelette at 11:48 AM on December 30, 2013


Seconding The Night Circus.
posted by soelo at 1:01 PM on December 30, 2013


n-thing The Night Circus - one of my all-time favorite, favorite books. It hooked me so hard I ached physically after I finished it, knowing it was all just fiction and I couldn't just run out and join up.

Everyone should read this book.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2013


What Keeps Me Here by Rebecca Brown. It's a very dark collection of short stories that actually left me kind of emotionally messed up and disoriented. But totally worth it. Also fits your queer author criteria.
posted by Munching Langolier at 10:21 PM on December 30, 2013


I think you'd enjoy Anne Tyler's most recent book, 'The Beginner's Goodbye'.
posted by h00py at 4:05 AM on December 31, 2013


Joyce Carol Oates.
posted by bendy at 11:01 PM on December 31, 2013


If anyone comes back to look at this?

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.
posted by Adelwolf at 4:12 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


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