MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
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« June 2006 »
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12 June 2006
Topic: June 2006
Miscellaneous News

NOW LIVE! Margin's latest, greatest issue—"Voyage to the Village: A Magical Realist Passport". Features voices and visions from all around the world, mostly from those magical realist writers and thinkers we're not most familiar with. This will be Margin's last edition for a good while, but it's jam-packed, so set your bookmarks, because we've got some serious summer reading for you! Featuring Eduardo Garcia Aguilar, Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Giles Goodland, A.J. LeFlahec, Catharine Leggett, Anna Maria Ortese, Robert Perchan, Sarah Sloat and Gloria Hickok Vando, plus many of Margin's popular columns, book reviews, analytical nonfiction and much more!

[Coming Up]
Fans of Southern Revival will doubtless want to see this event: SOUTHERN LIT: featuring Sherry Austin, author of Mariah of the Spirits, and Dot Jackson, author of Refuge. They will discuss sense of place, family themes, magical realism and Southern Gothic at the Henderson County Public Library in Hendersonville, NC at 4 p.m. For more info: 828.697.4725.

In keeping with our international theme, check out this book by Canadian magical realist author Jamie Bastedo. On Thin Ice is the coming-of-age magical realist story of a young girl, Ashley, in Canada's Arctic. A so-called "minestrone girl," Ashley has an Inuit father and a French-Canadian mother and she lives in a crazy house a marvelous, crazy blend of family and pets. Suitable as a young adult novel, which means it's going to be interesting to all adults in general.

Posted by at 10:22 AM PDT
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5 June 2006
Topic: June 2006
Miscellaneous News

Jim Krusoe's list of summer reading, "Perchance to Dream," in a special issue of the LA Times' column, includes a nice treasure trove of gems offering up facets of magical realism, such as:

Chronicle of Stone, by Ismail Kadare
Light, by Torgny Lindgren
The Palm-Wine Drinkard, by Amos Tutuola
The Radiance of the King, by Camara Laye
The Ten Thousand Things, by Marie Dermout
The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien
Writes Krusoe: "So, do I have a bone to pick with 'realistic' literature? Not really, but reality is what I can find outside my door any day of the week." Nuff said, Jim.

Anita Nair gives a wonderful first-person wrap-up of this year's Bogota Book Fair in The Hindu Review for those of us who couldn't make it. She's got an interesting perspective on what it must be like to be an author in Gabo-land.

For Isabel Allende fans who can't get enough of the diva, check out this interview posted in the online English edition of the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.

Magical realism can always be linked to current political events. Consider the US's current brouhaha over immigration reform, then take a look at Ann Hornaday's discussion of the 1984 film El Norte in The Houston Chronicle. She describes the film as a "graceful blend of classical narrative and magic realism and the power with which it brought an otherwise invisible world to life." It'll probably be hard to find at the vid-store, but do make the effort. Or queue up the ol' Tivo wishlist.

Posted by at 10:02 PM PDT
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2 June 2006
Topic: June 2006
Miscellaneous News

Magical realist author and Southern Revival contributor Bill Branley has decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from his soon-to-be-released novel, Sea Changes, to Book Relief. Branley writes: "Since I am from New Orleans, and I like books, I have decided to support this effort by contributing $1 for each copy sold from my first printing of Sea Changes. Since the first printing is 5,000 copies, and each dollar purchases two books, this donation will buy 10,000 books. That's about the number of books in a small library." Folks in the Puget Sound area can get their copy first-hand from the author on June 29, when Eagle Harbor Books of Bainbridge Island hosts the novel's release party. The evening's theme, "Northwest Writers Explore Deep South Roots," will spotlight Branley and Chimacum, WA writer Anne Turissini, who is currently writing a memoir about her 30-year career working as a female public defender in New Orleans. Additionally, Branley writes: "In keeping with the Deep South flavor of the evening, I am offering a free bowl of my special shrimp stew with each book signed. Yes, this is my mother's recipe, the one that is described in Chapter 11 of Sea Changes." Copies of his book may also be ordered online at Eagle Harbor's Sea Changes Order Page.

Posted by at 9:37 AM PDT
Updated: 5 June 2006 10:10 PM PDT
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30 May 2006
magical realism news for Tue May 30
Topic: May 2006
Miscellaneous News

Imagine, a university of magic… You don't need to imagine anymore! DNA India reports that a new course at Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata will be "geared towards helping movie makers, animators and others linked to the world of illusion and magic realism." The creator of the curriculum, PC Sorcar Jr., explains that “the aim behind institutionalising magic is to eliminate superstitions and make people think rationally.” Response to the future course (fall 2006) has been overwhelming and may very well pave the way for the creation of an actual University of Magical Arts in Kolkata. Whodathunk?

Our friends at the wonderful independent publishing house, The Aliform Group, recently shared great news: one of their own has done well. Jose Sarney's recent novel, Master of the Sea, translated by Dr. Gregory Rabassa and published by Aliform, won third place in ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year award in translation. I'm not surprised; it's a wonderful novel. Check it out here

Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits will come to the stage in Seattle in June 2007, dramatized by playwright Myra Platt. More info

The novel, Borrowed Body, by Valerie Mason-John, recently won the Mind Book of the Year award. The judges, Blake Morrison, Michele Roberts and Fay Weldon credited the novel for its "authenticity, despite being a blend of fictional memoir and magical realist fantasy." Read about it at The Guardian Unlimited

Here's a nice article about magical realism written by Omale Allen Abduljabbar of the Nigerian literati for Vanguard. Segue: An excellent reminder: June's edition of Margin will play host to dozens of international writers of magical realism. Stay tuned!

Posted by at 3:10 PM PDT
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22 May 2006
Topic: May 2006
Miscellaneous News

Bill Branley, magical realist writer and contributor to Southern Revival, reports that his experience at this year's BEA was positive and that Southern Revival received raves. Thanks, Bill, for putting the word out in DC! You can read a local article about Southern Revival in a recent edition of the Bainbridge Island Review.

Mozambique author, Mia Couto, earned raves from reviewer Nabeelah Shabbir for his latest novel, Sleepwalking Land, about which Shabbir says: "Both the narrative structure and tone of the book recall the Latin American magic realist genre—Muidiga’s youngest brother rapidly transforms into a cockerel, whilst a river runs dry the day after a patriarchal funeral has taken place on the water. It's all very fantastical and Couto has brewed the magic of his novel by preserving it in one of Latin America’s original languages—Portuguese. The Garcia Marquez motifs are very familiar but they have been displaced to Mozambique and adapted to the onset of war."

Folks in New Jersey who appreciate a little enchantment might wish to attend contributor Pamela Hughes' workshop, "Healing with the Fairies and Spirit Animals Workshop," slated for Saturday, June 10th, which will be held at the Ramapo reservation. Children 7 and up are invited and encouraged to attend, but Pamela also suggests attendants without children to bring their own "playful, inner child." For more info.

Yesterday's Book Standard reported on The New York Times recently list of top fiction from the last 25 years. Magical realist titles that made the list include Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Mark Helprin's Winter’s Tale.

Posted by at 10:41 AM PDT
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18 May 2006
Topic: May 2006

Contributor News

Stephen Siciliano (Vedette) continues his "La Danza" through New York on Thursday, May 18 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills [718.520.1777] and on Saturday May 20 at the home of documentary film maker Vincent Liotta in Greenwich [212.227.O240 or 646.515.5743]. Siciliano will give readings from his novel to musical pieces from Omar Torres' albums "Dynamisto" and "La Danza." Writes Siciliano: "Come swill some flamenco wine and catch the flamenco groove." Both of these performances are open to the public.

Jan Steckel writes: "I wanted to let you all know that the first print run of 200 of my new poetry chapbook, The Underwater Hospital, sold out in three weeks. Copies of the second print run are now available for $5 from Zeitgeist Press and at" Editor's note: They list her chapbook as a pamphlet… Would somebody please educate the folks at Amazon on the difference between a chapbook and a pamphlet? Sheesh.

New magical realist titles
Between the Bridge and the River, by Craig Ferguson [yes, the Late Show host].
Malinche, by Laura Esquivel
Refuge, by Dot Jackson
Matters of Life and Death, by Bernard MacLaverty

Check out these performances
Almost, Maine, Friday, May 19, Caribou Performing Arts Center in Caribou, ME; Penobscot Theatre Company, playwright John Cariani

The Ventriloquist, through Sunday May 21, 125 Bathurst in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; director Keith Turnbull, playwright Larry Tremblay

Film news
Check out El Doctor, an animated film by Suzan Pitt

Boohoo: The recent film release of The Mistress of Spices is not getting great reviews. I'm too sad about that to add the links to all the critics' pans in London. Just suffice it to say that, as Garrett Rowlan points out in our upcoming edition of Margin, magical realism might not truly be capturable for the big screen. (Any arguments to this theory can be sent directly to me, but you might first consider reading Rowlan's upcoming thesis on the subject in the June 9th edition.)

Another film that's not getting great reviews: Just My Luck. But who expected that one to be great? James Rocchi for Cinematical suggests a better film based on the concept of luck: Intacto. Thanks for the tip, James. Intacto sounds like a keeper, even if JML isn't.

Magical Realist Miscellany
Here's a terrific comparative book review on political writing in The Nation—critic John Banville spotlights Roberto Bola?o's Last Evenings on Earth and The Successor, Ismail Kadare's latest effort. While his references to magical realism are secondary, Banville's discussion itself is thoughtful and germaine to any dialogue about MR.

And while I'm on a tangent…why not check out Rebecca Solnit's commencement address for U-Cal Berkeley's English Department, "Welcome to the Impossible World"? Solnit: "Books matter. Stories matter. People die of pernicious stories, are reinvented by new stories, and make stories to shelter themselves. Though we learned from postmodernism that a story is only a construct, so is a house, and a story can be more important as shelter: the story that you have certain inalienable rights and immeasurable value, the story that there is an alternative to violence and competition, the story that women are human beings. Sometimes people find the stories that save their lives in books." Another relevant excursion into the roots and reasons for magical realism, methinks.

Posted by at 11:12 AM PDT
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12 May 2006
Topic: May 2006
The MAY 2006 edition of Margin is now live!

THIS HAS been a fun issue to put together. After all, magical realism relies on the ordinary for its value. What could be more ordinary than life in a quiet little town in the backwater of Colombia (consider Gabo's Macondo), or the experiences of a solitary traveller looking for a room to let (in Thomas Mann's "The Wardrobe"), or the study of a city map (for a "Street of Crocodiles")?

In Chocolat, the chocolatier hanging her shingle in a conservative French village isn't all that extraordinary, until you realize she's learning the future through batches of confection she stirs up daily. In Anjali Banerjee's funny novel, Imaginary Men, an American matchmaker with Indian roots is not so unusual to ponder until you learn she has literally witnessed the physiological process of lovers uniting. And what's so exceptional about mourning the loss of one's child? Except that readers of Toni Morrison's powerful novel, Beloved, will set you straight: that was no ordinary loss, and she was no ordinary child.

Domesticities seemed the perfect title for this edition revolving around daily life. It's a term narrow enough to conjure a sense of home, yet broad enough to be applied on multiple levels. Domestic life is about work, family, land. Homeland is a word we can all relate to, but in myriad different ways. Whether we come from city or country, whether we have large or small families, whether we have money or not, the homeland might be one of the few constructs that defines us together even when we are living distinctly different lives.

In this edition, you'll find a wide array of interpretations of domestic life:

the sad consequence of living in a paper house ~ the vivid links between generations of abused women in West Virginia ~ the treasures one finds under a pile of dirty dishes ~ the way one genius built his ascension to Heaven ~ the continuity of a town even underwater ~ the picture window revealing lost pasts ~ the barnyard messages of animal tracks ~ the living past at a Civil War site ~ the magically enhanced lives of certain Irish immigrants ~ the puzzling result of eating tainted fruit ~ the tall tale of a legendary swamp lover ~ the miracle of snowfall on a Southern barn ~ the building of a personal labyrinth ~ the story of one runaway boy who wiped out racial tension in a blue-collar town ~ the startling way one woman captured a man's heart ~ the plight of a fisherman at the end of his life ~ the animation of a home as an orphan searches for her mother


Stephen Benz ~ A.D. Conrad ~ Mark D'Anna ~ Emily Dickinson~ Maureen Tolman Flannery ~ Mary Clair Ervin Gildea ~ Pauline Holdstock ~ Pamela Hughes ~ Barbara Jacksha ~ Sondra Kelly-Green ~ Sheila Nickerson ~ Stephanie Rodriguez ~ Sandra Schwayer Sanchez ~ Lois Schlegel ~ Jerry Spinelli ~ Jodee Stanley

Some announcements:

• Check out the crystal ball icon on our contents page. Roll your cursor over it and you will foresee into a bit of Margin's future for 2006!

• Coming in June: a special international edition

• Our general reading period is still CLOSED. Sorry, we've got 2006 filled! Subscribers are the first to learn of new calls for submissions: if you haven't subscribed, you ought to do so soon, as the free option may vanish later this year!

SOUTHERN REVIVAL: DEEP MAGIC FOR HURRICANE RELIEF is now available! We're asking for $10 minimum, 100% of each donation forwarded to First Book. Many thanks for The Georgia Review and The North American Review for their assistance in helping us promote this important fundraiser.

• Keep In Touch! Our MAGICAL REALISM NEWS BLOG is back and better than ever. If you have any magical realism news you'd like to contribute, drop me an email at:

I hope you enjoy this "ordinary" edition of Margin. Perhaps it will remind you of that moment in your life when you stepped between worlds for a breath or two and found something new. You know of such moments. We've all had them. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they come daily. Were we to look for them, what would we discover about ourselves? Probably much more to write home about than we previously thought.

Time for me to get back to my garden of words.

Tamara Kaye Sellman, Editor and Publisher
aka The Magical Realism Maven


Posted by at 11:35 AM PDT
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5 May 2006
Editor's rant
Mood:  irritated
This is only tangentially related to MR News, but here goes anyway:

If you are interested in joining a list discussing feminist science fiction, don't join the Feminist Sci Fi ( carried by The site for the group is fine, and useful, but the main list is poorly managed by people who seem not to understand the very technology they're administrating.

They recently had to change addresses after encountering trouble with autoreplies.

Autoreplies (you know, the messages that read, "So and So will be out of the office through Friday; for assistance, please contact Such and Such at xxx.xxxx") are generally not a handling problem for the rest of us who have been list admins over the years (including, ahem, myself). Each list mechanism has its own way of dealing with autoreplies, which is what the list handler for this group should have engaged.

Now, list mistress Leanne Phillips might be an otherwise lovely individual, but her approach to fixing a problem which is largely one of administration and not one of membership is rather extreme: she wants to ban all members using autoreplies. Oh, and she called people who use autoreplies "megalomaniacs."


Suffice it to say, I unsubscribed.

It wasn't that great a list anyway, just an Internet book discussion group, mostly. Where I live, we can talk about books in person. And we do. All sorts of books. Even feminist SF books!

Oh, and PS: It's probably useful to note that they've never received an autoreply from me!

Tamara's tip of the day

Posted by at 9:01 AM PDT
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3 May 2006
Topic: May 2006
GOOD NEWS...we've collected almost $1500 from the sale of SOUTHERN REVIVAL to donate to First Book! That's more than half of what we'd hoped to collect, and well in advance of when we thought we'd collect it. That $1500 will make it possible for 3000 brand-new books to be distributed to libraries in the process of rebuilding across the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast region.

Some updates:

SR has made appearances at the following live events:

Rainbow Bookfest, Seattle
Private gumbo party, Bainbridge Island, WA
Unitarian social gathering, Bainbridge Island, WA

SR has received publicity commitments from:
The Burning Word Poetry Festival
The Georgia Review
North American Review

SR is now available for purchase directly from:
Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

SR will appear at the following venues this spring:
Pegasus Book Discussion Group, Bainbridge Island, WA
Neighborhood event, Bainbridge Island, WA
An open mic event in Jacksonville, FL (tba)
A coffee shop in St. Louis, MO (tba)
Jacksonville, FL indy bookseller (tba)
Skagit River Poetry Festival, La Conner, WA

We are working to publicize SR at the following venues:
BEA 2006, WA DC
ALA 2006, NOLA

We are arranging the following events/appearances for the fall:
Katrina anniversary reading event, NOLA
Private gumbo party, Bainbridge Island, WA
Write on the Sound writers conference, Edmonds, WA

We are working on a full-range publicity package this week and next, and we're into another print run to keep up with demands. As SR is a hand-made journal, production is slower than typical, but the results have been outstanding, and so far, people are raving!

Don't have your copy yet? Get one while they're hot! This is, after all, a limited edition!

Posted by at 4:07 PM PDT
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27 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
Miscellaneous News

Fans of Margin contributor Jan Steckel will want to tune in today to the program, "Woman-Stirred Radio," on WGDR-Radio 91.1 FM in Vermont, or on the Internet at (1:30p West Coast time, 4:30p on the East Coast). Steckel adds: "Got something you want asked in the interview, like 'What about that five bucks you owe me?' You can call (radio show hostess) Merry in the studio before or after the show at 802-454-7762."

If you can't tune in, why not read two new online published poems by Steckel appearing in New Works Review and The Potomac? Another option: read Merry Gangemi's review of Steckel's recently released book of poems, The Underwater Hospital.

More Margin poets out in the world: Erin Fristad reads tonight at the Seattle Town Hall Political Cabaret and at the In Other Words Bookstore in Portland OR, May 5th. She's a terrific poet and reader; go to her events, if you can.

Also, once again, this spring Hermine Meinhard will teach a poetry workshop at Il Chiostro, a country farmhouse in Tuscany where wine and olive oil have been produced for hundreds years. She reports that last year the writing and the experience were transforming, as if the landscape had drawn the writers into an intimacy with it and themselves.

Practically speaking, the workshop is a chance to immerse yourself in writing in a place of deep roots and sensuousness. The group will be small (no more than 10); that, and the uniqueness of the setting, make it possible for her to give much individual attention to participants and their poems.

The 2006 dates are May 13 – 20. The week includes daily workshops of improvisational writing workshops which will draw on (among other elements) the mysterious beauty of the landscape, memory, and language; individual conferences, excursions to the walled medieval town of Siena and other hilltowns, and meals of traditional Tuscan recipes. For information, visit the website for Il Chiostro or contact Hermine at her website.

Peter Keough for Boston's The Phoenix discusses some of the treasures of this year's African Art Festival held last February. Would it be surprising to learn that many of the films shared at least a tangential relationship to magical realism?

Check for these titles in your local video store (or make a DVR wishlist!) and see for yourself:

Guinean filmmaker Cheik Doukoure's Le ballon d’or/The Golden Ball (1992)—"Charming and spirited, Doukoure’s fable evokes the disarming innocence and sinister darkness of a folk tale."

Danish filmmaker Jeppe R?nde's The Swenkas (2004)—a "whimsical documentary" which "R?nde tries to transform… into a magical-realist tall tale complete with an old storyteller, arty symbolism, and an eclectic soundtrack…"

Rwandan filmmaker Raso Ganemtore's short film, Safi, la petite mere (2004)—"After her mother dies in childbirth, little Safi acts resourcefully when the locals decide to kill the newborn in order to escape the 'evil eye.' "

Internationally acclaimed magical realist author Salman Rushdie appeared a couple of weeks ago at the Schwab Auditorium in University Park, PA. I wish I could have been there. Writer Adam Smeltz for reports that "Life, according to Salman Rushdie, is inherently weird. … Ordinary life does not exist, the British author told an almost-full Schwab Auditorium on Tuesday night. … But day-to-day habits do dull human perceptions of the world, Rushdie said. So it's an author's job to shake them up."

Quoting Rushdie via Smeltz: "To renew that sense of extraordinary-ness, the artist needs to make things strange. … One of the great lies ... that we present to the world is that we lead ordinary lives … No, we don't."

The audience took care of the standing ovation for me.

"In Pen, psychosomatic paraplegia meets magic realism. But there could be worse marriages," says Michael Feingold in a panned review of the play for the Village Voice. Please note, his is not a panned review of magical realism, per se, though he does refer to it as a kind of "flamflam," which leaves this fan of MR a bit unsettled…

Fans of Jose Saramago's Blindness might also equally appreciate his latest novel, Seeing, which was recently reviewed by Art Winslow for the Los Angeles Times. Writes Winslow, "Saramago, Portugal's only Nobel laureate in literature, commonly employs magical realist techniques, and a seemingly inexplicable event does drive the action in Seeing. But whether it is questionable seizure, holding people indeterminately without charge, conducting high-tech surveillance, utilizing techniques such as data mining, refusing to accept electoral results or conducting PR wars against public opinion, all the political tactics on display in this novel are to be found operating today in the globe's democratic regimes, including our own, without resort to supernatural literary effects. That may be the eeriest aspect of Seeing."

Now this is interesting: Gabo's One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of only four novels that made "top 20" lists in studies researching the differences in reading influences among men and women. The studies, conducted by the organizers of the Orange Prize, are outlined in an article in the online edition of The Independent. Other titles to make the lists which have tendrils in magical realism include "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.

Posted by at 11:35 AM PDT
Updated: 27 April 2006 11:30 AM PDT
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24 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
Women Reading Across Boundaries at Women and Children First Bookstore
[CHICAGO] A multicultural collection of women authors, including Margin contributors Constance Vogel and M. Eliza Hamilton Abegunde, will read work that crosses boundaries of race, class, death, and acceptable conduct in the long-awaited debut for Jane's Stories III: Women Writing Across Boundaries at Women and Children First Bookstore on 5233 North Clark from 4 to 6pm next Sun Apr 30.

The anthology features poems and short stories that have won awards for authors in competitions sponsored by Jane's Stories Press Foundation, the nonprofit publisher, which sponsors programs for emerging and established writers who are underrepresented in the publishing industry, focusing on writing by women over 50 and under 24, and by women of color.

Posted by at 9:11 AM PDT
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19 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
SOUTHERN REVIVAL is almost ready for release! Here's the latest:
APRIL 19, 2006
Announcing a forthcoming anthology release

Deep Magic For Hurricane Relief
Publication release date: April 29, 2006


Stephen Alcorn, Louis E. Bourgeois, Bill Branley, Geraldine Cannon, Susan Deefholts, Rebecca Sete Jacobson, Dorothy Laurence, Michael Lythgoe, Jack A. Neal, Carol D. O'Dell, Susan Roney-O'Brien, Shira Richman, Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld, Larri Ann Rosser, Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler, Tamara Kaye Sellman, Sheree Renee Thomas and Doris Umbers

SOUTHERN REVIVAL: Deep Magic for Hurricane Relief, a small press effort by publisher Tamara Kaye Sellman of Bainbridge Island, WA, aims to help restore hurricane-ravaged libraries in the south as well as to put books back into the hands of evacuees. Sellman has turned this year's edition of her annual anthology, Periphery: A Magical Realist Zine, into a fundraiser.

100% of donations to and sales of the anthology benefit First Book ( First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

Book Relief ( is First Book's massive publishing industry-wide relief initiative to place at least five million new books into the hands, schools and libraries of those affected by the hurricanes. Book Relief is the nation's largest and most comprehensive book distribution relief program.

Slated for release on April 29, this year's 40-page anthology offers diverse poetry and prose which honors and celebrates the cultural magic of the Gulf Coast. This eclectic mix features a creation myth of the Mississippi River, the story of a shape-changing gator woman, a poem discussing revival "works" in a jungle of kudzu, a tale of a flood in New Orleans which "reunites" several generations of women, and other tastes from what can only be described as a jambalaya of Southern voices, vision and invention.

"We like to think of our effort as first aid for the hearts and minds of our Southern neighbors," said Sellman, a self-proclaimed bibliophile who treasures such Southern authors as Connie May Fowler, Carson McCullers and Lee Smith.

She was inspired to help out Southern libraries after previously contributing books from her own library to American military troops around the world. "Food, shelter and clothing are not the only things we need to keep our souls well fed. That's why books, art and music are a necessity, not a luxury. With them, people can thrive, rather than simply survive."

Publisher Sellman aims to generate enough donations from sales of SOUTHERN REVIVAL to assist First Book in re-supplying an entire community library in the hurricane-ravaged South with new books. So far, her efforts have acquired 25% of that goal all through donations and without having sold a single copy of the anthology.

Copies will sell for a minimum purchase donation of $10, "but we expect a lot of people will give more—$20 or $25," said Sellman. She explained, "For every $1 donated to First Book, two new books will be distributed by the charity to a library or an evacuee in need. When someone gives $25, that's the same as providing 50 books. That's a great investment for charity, we think."

She recommends people reserve their copies by contacting her online at "Even if we go into a second or third printing, this is going to be a limited run, so people who are interested should go ahead and preorder."

The anthology will be sold online, through local bookstores and via private events. Readings and promotional events are also being arranged for Seattle, Atlanta, New Orleans, Florida and Oxford.

For purchasing information, visit

40 pages
$10+ donation
Quality cover stock
Vellum endsheets
Saddle-stitch binding

Block relief artwork from award-winning printmaker Stephen Alcorn (
Photography from Mississippian photojournalist Jack A. Neal (

For more information: Tamara Kaye Sellman
321 High School Road NE, #204
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Regular news will return to the MR Newsblog within a few days.—The Editors

Posted by at 3:18 PM PDT
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3 April 2006
Topic: April 2006
We'll be forwarding over $1000 in donations today for First Book's Book Relief campaign as part of our fundraising effort, Southern Revival, a humble little journal we're producing with the not-so-humble goal of making at least $2500 to help restore Southern libraries and put books in the hands of evacuees who've been displaced across the country. We're almost halfway there, thanks to so many wonderful people who've donated to the cause. What does $2500 cover? Enough books to completely stock a small community library. Why not pitch in with your own donation? We're asking for a minimum donation of $10, a small price to pay to help bring first aid to the hearts and minds of our Southern neighbors. Learn more here

Currently, the staff for Southern Revival (full title: Periphery IV: SOUTHERN REVIVAL: Deep Magic for Hurricane Relief) is making content and artwork selections. Those waiting to hear from us will know very soon. Thanks for your patience! We received terrific material representing so many facets of the South; it will be hard to make our final decisions!

I'd like, at this time, to thank our volunteer staff (Susan Deefholts, Carol D. O'Dell and Shira Richman) for their dedication, brilliance and amazing heart.

Copper Canyon Press has just released Alberto Rios' latest book of poems, The Theater of Night. In a review by Joy Lanzendorfer for San Francisco Chronicle, his poetry in this book was described as "often surreal, sometimes bordering on magic realism, such as in 'The Drive-In of the Small Animals,' where insects, lizards and other creatures watch humans as if watching a movie at the drive-in." I met Rios briefly at the Port Townsend Writers Conference last July and found him to be a gentle, personable man with a huge fan club. I highly recommend you take a look at his work. He's one of America's finest magical realist poets, in my humble opinion.

The lucky folks in Brattleboro, VT will enjoy the first-ever public screening of Jay Craven's newest feature film, Disappearances, this Thursday, April 6 at the Latchis Theatre. The film, starring Kris Kristofferson, is described in the Brattleboro Reformer as having, "in the midst of a fun, action story…a heady dose of what Craven calls magical realism, which incorporates inexplicable occurrences and fantasy, or, in the case of the film, mysterious legend or folklore, which characters accept at face value and which influences the story. It's a device used in popular films as Being John Malkovich and Like Water for Chocolate." Sounds like a keeper; I can't wait for it to make it to my corner of the country.

Robert Coover, who is perhaps best known among magical realism's fans for his 1977 novel, The Public Burning, led the workshop, "A Walk Through the Future: Technology Taking Literature Into a New Era," last Friday as part of the Our Lady of the Lake University's literary festival. In an interview with San Antonio Express-News book editor, Steve Bennett, Coover discusses what it means to be an unconventional writer and why, in part, he believes it is important for him to reintroduce myth into contemporary electronic writing.

Ah, scandal. It's been reported in Hindustan Times that "Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami accused his former editor of illicitly selling his handwritten manuscripts, saying many texts were now being traded on Internet auction sites and at second-hand bookshops for exorbitant prices. … Writing in Bungeishunju, a literary magazine released [March 10], the writer said a handwritten translation into Japanese of The Ice Palace by F. Scott Fitzgerald was put for sale at a bookshop for more than… $8,490 [USD]."

"The Birth House is a sweet little piece of fiction. Set in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, it's a strong first outing for writer Ami McKay and features an element of magic realism—call it a hybrid of fabulist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and prairie realist Sinclair Ross."—Patricia Robertson for the Toronto Star. Okay, who could not be interested in reading this?

Please Don't Come Back From The Moon,a first novel by Dean Bakopoulos, "deftly melds magic realism with social satire," according to The New York Times. The story centers around the mass walkout of a Rust Belt working man's town in the summer of 1991 and the consequences thrust upon the grown sons of the protesters.

The author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris, delves into her obsession with the unexplained, the dark, and the superstitious in an interesting interview conducted by Uma Girish for California Literary Review.

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30 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

Kathleen Alcala always has plenty of news to share with us. She recently attended the AWP Conference in Austin, contributing to a reading which honored the 30th anniversary of Calyx. Alcala writes: "This was a magazine started with the expectation that after five years, there would no longer be a need for a feminist press!" She's recently published essays in Re-Markings, The Pen and the Key and One Wound for Another / Una herida por otra, Testimonios de Latinos in the U.S. through Cyberspace. Nibir Ghosh, the editor of Re-Markings, also recently published Multicultural America: Conversations with Contemporary Authors, in which Alcala was profiled along with Octavia Butler, Colleen McElroy and others. Alcala also reports "I was privileged to work with the science fiction cooperative on Bainbridge Island as it published its second anthology, Obliquity."

She's done some teaching as well for Seattle's premier writing hub, The Richard Hugo House, where she also serves as secretary; her class, entitled “Called to Witness,” discussed writing after disaster, which led to some excellent essays.

And speaking of Octavia Butler, Alcala will speak about the much-beloved science fiction writer, who recently passed away, at this year's Rainbow Bookfest on April 29 (Margin will be there, too, selling Southern Revival: Deep Magic for Hurricane Relief). She will also present before a conference of educators in June concerning her book, The Flower in the Skull, and if that weren't enough, she's shopping an essay collection right now and working to complete a second collection of short stories under the working title, Cities of Gold.

Margin contributor Katherine Grace Bond has been running a series of workshops and events geared toward teenage writers for quite a while now. Today, she announces Teen Write 2006, a 3-day "hero's journey" scheduled to take place at Fort Worden (near Port Townsend, WA) on August 18-20. For more info

Zelda Leah Gatuskin, whose Ancestral Notes excerpts we reprinted, with accompanying digital collages, back in 2001, announces the Ancestral Notes website, a repository for all the family history information, interviews and stories she gathered while writing her book, as well as related research and creative writing she has done since. One of her first big projects is a virtual tribute to her grandmother, Sadie Gordon, a prolific artist/craftswoman who served as her first mentor and role model. Writes Gatuskin: "I hope she will inspire other creative women in all fields as she continues to inspire me."

The Underwater Hospital, Jan Steckel's first poetry chapbook,will be released from Zeitgeist Press next week. Steckel points out: "The title poem, which I consider magical realist, is appearing until April 21 in The Pedestal Magazine." She'll be reading and signing copies of her chapbook at the Albany Library in Albany, California on Thursday April 6 at 7 pm. You can pick up a copy of her book through her website.

Dan Jaffe's interview with Ruth Knafo Setton appears on the online literary journal, Bibliobuffet. Setton will also be reading, with other contributors, from the literary journal, Zeek, at Makor in New York City on May 18th. Read her poem, "Holy Thighs," here. Meanwhile, she's just finished her latest novel, Darktown Blues, and a poetry collection, Dance of the Seven Skins, which she describes as "prose/poetry that interweaves the Hansel and Gretel story."

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27 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

Great news from Katherine Vaz: She's just been named a Radcliffe Fellow for 2006-7. She'll be taking a break from being the Briggs-Copeland Fellow in Fiction at Harvard to complete the Radcliffe fellowship, then will return to her Harvard work in a year. She also announces that she has a story about Lisbon set to appear in the Spring, 2006 issue of The Harvard Review. Congratulations, Katherine!

Today's The Rocky Mountain News features young stage director Wendy Goldberg, who is currently directing The Clean House at Denver Center. "I think it's magic," she says of the production. "I think you can label it as magical realism if you want. All of the memory scenes are not literal, and so how to articulate that is a lot of fun, how to bring those background memories into the house." The play runs through April 22.

Naomi Ayala recently announced a new poetry series in Chicago. Palabra Pura is a collaborative endeavor sponsored by the excellent organization, the Guild Complex, with Letras Latinas of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and the Rafael Cintron-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Palabra Pura "promotes literary expression in more than one tongue through a monthly bilingual reading featuring Chicano and Latino artists." The series is held the third Wednesday monthly. More info.

Writing it Real, a terrific resource for writers on the web, recently featured Janice Eidus on the subject of Reading for Writing. Eidus's essay, "The Best Authority," is not to be missed—a lively account of writing from the perspective of Otherness. [Note: This essay may require logging in.]

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Updated: 27 March 2006 10:24 AM PST
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22 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

Today, Margin launched its vernal equinox edition, Earth~Words: The Nature of Magical Realism, to celebrate the beginning of spring as well as the extraordinariness of Mother Nature, who might be considered the most amazing female magical realist of all…

Yesterday, Cynthia Ozick confessed that Christopher Robin inspired her to write Heir to the Glimmering World at a reading she presented before The Writer's House at the University of Pennsylvania.

Saturday, folks in Palm Beach can don their smartest headwear when they attend Zora Fest, a celebration of the life of Zora Neale Hurston , the Harlem Renaissance writer, folklorist, anthropologist and author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston, the author of 30 books and plays during the 20s and 30s, was well known for wearing what the Palm Beach Post describes as "a snappy chapeau." Going with that theme, a salute to the author—"Hattitude"—happens from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. as the first event in this year's annual Zora Fest in Fort Pierce, to be held at the Koblegard Student Union at Indian River Community College. Zora Fest continues April 28-30 with lectures on Hurston's life and work, music and a festival on April 29 at Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce. Hurston died in Fort Pierce in 1960, taught for a brief time at Lincoln Park Academy and worked for The Chronicle newspaper in Fort Pierce.

Out of Alaska comes Ella Bandita and Other Stories, a collection of dark adult fairy tales written by Montgomery Mahaffey. Mahaffey won a $5,000 Individual Artist Project Award from the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation and applied it toward her collection, which has been described by Fairbanks Daily News-Miner as "more akin to magical realism or the modern fables of authors such as Paulo Coelho." Oh, I can't wait to read this one!

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20 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

TODAY ONLY! A special musical performance of Oprah Winfrey’s production of Alice Walker's novel, The Color Purple, will play tonight only at the Cadillac Palace Theatre to a hand-picked audience in Chicago. More info.

Now this is exciting: Animation film director, Hayao Miyazaki, has optioned the rights to Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea six-volume cycle, which Miyazaki plans to adapt into one movie. Stay tuned, this could be one of those amazing adaptations that's long in the making (i.e. The Lord of the Rings).

This Thursday, folks in Garden City, NJ can catch Gloria Naylor discussing her popular novel, The Women of Brewster Place, about a community of black women, at 1 pm at the College Center Building at Nassau Community College. The event is free; for more info, call 516.572.7082.

Ann Patchett will appear before audiences at the North Carolina Festival of the Book in late April 2006. The festival will take place at Duke University and other locations in Durham and will feature as many as 80 authors. More info

New Zealand's independent news media, Scoop, showcased Louise Erdrich all last week as part of their "Writers and Readers Week." According to the article in Scoop: "She spoke…about how the storytelling traditions of her family and heritage have influenced her and about writing from outside the mainstream culture."

Okay, so you may have heard of cowboy poets, but what about fisher poets? Margin contributor Erin Fristad, who also works as a commercial fisherwoman, fits that bill. Her work as a poet and poetry instructor recently made waves in Astoria, Oregon, when an entire fleet of fisher poets took up residence to celebrate their art. Read the article in The Daily Astorian.

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13 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

Melissa Mia Hall recently gave Alice Hoffman's latest release, The Ice Queen, a major thumbs up, declaring it her “best novel since Practical Magic bewitched readers in 1995.”
Editor's note: Don't ask me to explain how it is that today is March 13 but the publication date of Hall's review is April 3…

Hampton University welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker (The Color Purple) as part of the university's annual Read-In event on March 23. Walker will discuss the relationship between her novel and its film adaptation. For more info || Walker's novel, which has been adapted already for Broadway, will hit the road for a national tour in 2007, beginning with at least 3 months' staging in homegirl Oprah Winfrey's Chicago in April, according to

Okay, so it's not magical realism per se, but Margo Hammond's article, "To tell the truth, we should value fiction" (reprinted here in The Kansas City Star), addresses the subject of fiction, fabulation, embellishment and memoir in a thoughtful manner. Indirectly, it has everything to do with magical realism, which has had its detractors over the years who've disparaged its writers for their interest in contrivances and artifice.

The Washington Blade, in its spring 2006 preview, mentions that a new critical book examining feminist writer Kathy Acker, Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker, is set for release in May.

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9 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

Amy Tan's short story, "Immortal Heart," will be staged this coming Friday by Word for Word, a theater company which performs short stories and other texts with every word intact. The performance will be held at Pacifica in San Francisco. The story eventually became the basis for her novel, The Bonesetter's Daughter. For more info

Speaking of The Bonesetter's Daughter, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tan's novel has been commissioned by the San Francisco Opera for production during the 2008-09 season. Composer Stewart Wallace will adapt the novel. Imagine, Amy Tan in choruses.

The 11th annual Orange Prize, which honors the year’s best female-written, English-language novel published in the U.K., announced its longlist at the London Book Fair last Monday. It's not just U.K. writers that have qualified this year; American author Nicole Krauss's title, The History of Love, is up for an award. Look for the shortlist in April and the winners announcement in June. Read the Book Standard review here.

The Washington Post's occasional series reconsidering notable and/or neglected books features Toni Morrison in a piece written by Jonathan Yardley. A great recap of Morrison's œuvre, if you're not already a huge fan.

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6 March 2006
Topic: March 2006

On Wednesday, March 8, magical realist author Carmen Tafolla will present a one-woman show, "My Heart Speaks a Different Language," at the College of Southern Idaho's Fine Arts Center. The performance has been seen by audiences throughout the United States and in England, Spain, Germany, Mexico and Canada. According to an article in the Twin Falls, ID Times-News: "In her stage presentation, she appears as bag lady, a first grader, a college student, a retired soldier, an outspoken black janitor and other characters. Each portrayal emphasizes in its own way the strength and beauty of the individual and cultural diversity." The performance begins at 7 pm.

On Thursday, March 23, Gloria Anzaldua will be the featured subject of an ongoing program on KHSU-FM 90.5 and KHSR-FM 91.9 (broadcast in and around Eureka, CA) entitled "The Mirrors of Metis, a collaboration between KHSU, Humboldt State University and the community. Meant to educate radio listeners about the important contributions of diverse women throughout the world, the program recently trained the spotlight on Toni Morrison. For more info

And speaking of Toni Morrison, work inspired by her novel, Beloved, is included among a variety of creative efforts from Miami Beach High School students which comprise the "Avant Garden: An African-American Slave Garden." Locally, the Center for Emerging Art provided the art supplies and the research to teach the children about African American slave gardens. The Beloved piece, an acrylic painted by 17-year-old Leila Ali, depicts the love between slaves and their families. Recently, the exhibit was displayed by the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, which plans to incorporate a slave garden among its themed gardens. For more info

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