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Staff Picks -Magic Realism Fiction

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The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende (Overdrive/Libby)
Isabel Allende’s unforgettable debut novel brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. Focusing on patriarch Esteban, his wife Clara, their daughter Blanca, and her daughter Alba, The House of the Spirits is an epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender
Rose Edelstein is unique: she can taste emotions in the food that others cook. As she grows up, Rose will learns to harness the gift she thought a curse, becoming aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.


The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
In 1969 New York, the four Gold children are told their fortunes. As they navigate the next five decades, each one’s life is changed by the fortune in different ways as the siblings seek to escape their destinies.


The Water Children – Anne Berry
Presents the stories of four individuals whose lives are irrevocably shaped by the pull and spirits of the water. Owen, who believes his younger sister was stolen by merfolk in childhood; Catherine, who’s cousin nearly died on a frozen lake; Sean, who communes with river spirits; and abused orphan Naomi, who escapes into the ocean while harboring a powerful secret.


Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury
Part memory, part poetry, part boundless, hot, hazy summer, Dandelion Wine recalls the 12-year-old Douglas Spalding’s adventures in the summer of 1928. Set in fictional Green Town, Douglas’ experiences are wonderful, thoughtful, and unsettling in turns.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Díaz
Presenting Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Unfortunately, his big dreams may not come to fruition thanks to the Fukœ — a curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love.


The Mistress of Spices – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Tilo is a young woman born in another time in a faraway place who is trained in the ancient art of spices, becoming immortal and ordained with special powers. Traveling through time to present-day Oakland, she opens a spice shop from which she administers curative spices to her customers and unexpectedly finds love.


The Shell Collector – Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr's debut collection of stories takes readers from the African coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Exploring the human condition in all its varieties, the stories are united by a shared deference to the mysteries of the universe.

Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
Despite the fact that she has fallen in love with a young man, Tita, the youngest of three daughters born to a tyrannical rancher, must obey tradition and remain single and at home to care for her mother. In the resultant atmosphere of anguish and longing, Tita’s emotions begin to magically flavor her cooking, affecting her entire family.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
The story follows a nameless narrator who returns, in middle age, to his childhood hometown and the three mysterious women who live on a farm at the end of the lane. As he digs deeper into his past, the narrator realizes that the idyllic veneer of his childhood hides secret both monstrous and magical.


Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
Two half sisters are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana, each heading towards vastly different futures. Stretching from Ghanaian tribal wars to slavery and Civil War in America, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing deftly weaves histories and geographies into a cohesive, powerful whole.


Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, sensual, fiercely independent Nadia falls in love with gentle, restrained Saeed. When the unrest in their city explodes, they hear whispers about doors that can whisk people away, and, in the choice of a lifetime, they find a door and step through.


The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
Haunting and strange, The snow Child is the story of a childless couple working a farm in the brutal landscape of 1920 Alaska. They discover a little girl living in the wilderness, with a red fox as a companion, and begin to love the strange, almost-supernatural child as their own.


The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin – Stephanie Knipper (Hoopla/Overdrive/Libby)
Sisters Rose and Lily Martin were inseparable growing up on their family's Kentucky flower farm, yet grew apart after the birth of Lily’s unusual child Antoinette, who can heal with her touch. A novel about what it means to be family and about the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love.


100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A landmark novel of the genre, 100 Years of Solitude follows the stories of the Buendia family through generations in the small South American town of Macondo. Set against the lush jungle, the Buendias change and shift over the decades, struggling to accept the passage of time and the arrival of industry to their small town.


Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, Life of Pi is a rousing adventure and meta-tale of survival. Retelling the youth of Piscine Molitor (Pi) Patel, the novel follows Pi from his father’s zoo in Pondicherry to brine-soaked days alone on the sea, stuck in a lifeboat with a tiger that he names Richard Parker.


Beloved – Toni Morrison
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. Filled with horrific memories of the farm she left, and a new home haunted by the ghost of her unnamed baby, Sethe struggles to understand her past as she wrestles with her future.


Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
Japanese teenager Kafka Tamura goes on the run and holes up in a strange library in a small country town as Nakata, a finder of lost cats, goes on a puzzling odyssey across Japan. Gradually, these two seemingly disparate stories interweave.


The Salt God’s Daughter – Ilie Ruby (Hoopla)
Set in Southern California against a magical landscape and exotic folklore, sisters Ruthie and Dolly search for a home and for true love. Imbued with a traditional Scottish folktale and hints of Jewish mysticism, The Salt God's Daughter illuminates the tremulous bonds of maternal love, the lovely and often harsh realities of girlhood, and the mixed blessings of identity.

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. One of India’s thousand ‘Midnight Children,’ all born within the same hour, Saleem has magical gifts: his health and actions are inextricably bound to those of his nation.


The Hummingbird’s Daughter – Luis Alberto Urrea
Based on Urrea's great-aunt who had healing powers and was acclaimed as a saint, The Hummingbird’s Daughter is the story of a girl struggling with her family and faith. When sixteen-year-old Teresita arises from death possessing the power to heal, she is declared a saint and forced to navigate the realities of the impending Mexican civil war.


The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker
Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship in early 1900’s New York. As their stories interweave and develop, the two beings look for newness in the bustling city, meeting at night and discussing philosophy, ethics, and theology.


Red Sorghum – Mo Yan
A novel of family, myth, and memory set during the fratricidal barbarity of 1930s China. Spanning three generations, the story is told through a series of flashbacks recounted by an omniscient narrator, who depicts events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty.