MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

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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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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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