MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
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28 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
Margin proudly announces a new special theme for the Spring 2006 edition:

Magical Realism from the Subcontinent

Our goal at MARGIN is to explore modern magical realism. In this third in a series of special theme issues, we will address the diversity of voices from the subcontinent of India, celebrating their particular manifestations of literary magical realism.

Margin's Indian exploration will be launched in June 2006.

Contributors need not currently live in the region, nor does the work necessarily need to be set there. We welcome work from the broad diaspora of Indian writers. If we decide to use your work we will ask for you to share with us your connection to the peninsula (through family ties, cultural upbringing, residency), and you must be willing and able to authenticate it. We are interested specifically in anything that serves to answer the question, "What is magical realism from India?" See website for detailed guidelines.

How To Submit
We accept submissions either via e-mail or surface mail.

Send electronic submissions, putting the words "Passages to India" in the subject line, here. We will not open attachments. Please do not send attachments, but embed the text of your electronic submissions into the body of your e-mail. Leave format coding out, if possible. We can discuss that after acceptance. If your e-mail address becomes invalid, we cannot be held responsible for failure to reply. Do not send URLs; we simply don't have time to navigate entire sites looking for manuscripts.

Send surface mail submissions to:

MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
ATTN: Passages to India
321 High School Road N.E.
PMB #204
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Deadline/ February 28, 2006. Estimated reply time is the end of April 2006 or sooner. Please note the anthology staff goes on break in December of every year.

If you have any questions about this special theme, don't hesitate to ask!

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22 March 2005
Now Playing: Join MARGIN in celebrating 5 Fabulist Years!
Topic: March 2005


Save this date! THURSDAY, MARCH 31
9:30 pm for Main Event
12:00 pm midnight for Liar's Fest
Place: Our Town Cafe
245 Broadway E
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-1924
Cost: Free!


Join six terrific North American authors for a special night celebrating the diversity and popularity of literary magical realism.

Co-hosts Johnny Frem of Vancouver's lively and interactive Bolts of Fiction literary arts community and Tamara Kaye Sellman, editor and publisher of MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism are proud to announce the upcoming performances of these marvelous magical realist writers:

Janice Eidus of New York, NY, USA
John Briggs of Granville, MA, USA
Ewing Campbell of Austin, TX, USA
Karen McelMurray of Milledgeville, GA, USA
Pauline Holdstock of Sydney, BC, CANADA
Paulo da Costa of Calgary, AL and Cortez Island, BC, CANADA

(featured readers' bios below)

The event is held in conjunction with the year-long celebration of the 5th anniversary of MARGIN, the de facto North American clearinghouse for authors of magic realism. Special thanks to the Writer's Union of Canada and the Canada Council for help with honoraria and travel expenses, and a grateful nod to Associated Writing Programs, which have selected Vancouver BC as the site of its annual conference, which has attracted four of MARGIN's authors to this corner of the world.

Between performances, selected definitions of magical realism will be presented by Sellman as a way to answer the question, "What IS magical realism?" and Frem will give out various door prizes.

WE WANT YOU! (to participate in this audience-interactive event!)

Stick around to ring in April Fool's Day at midnight when Paulo da Costa (SCENT OF A LIE) leads a story-circle of tall tales, urban legends, fish stories and other adventures in fabrication! Magical realism enjoys roots in oral tradition and tall tale story forms; stick around and see who can spin the wildest yarn! Participation encouraged: Prepare to read, recite or relate your own tall tale?something social, silly, sensual and symbolic!

Throughout the evening, participating audience members may win door prizes for dropping an interesting definition of magic realism into the box at the door and for being the first name-and-answer drawn from a hat to correctly identify some link between all the stories?a phrase, an object, an image (to be decided by the authors just beforehand). Members of the audience could also win one of several door prizes (copies of Periphery, a magical realist zine, fountain pens, key-chains, etc.) plus the grand prize, a small library of signed copies of books from our featured authors.

All of our featured authors will be available to sell and sign their books throughout the evening. Help support North American magical realist authors!


For more information:
(in Canada) ? CNT: Johnny Frem, 604.254.0355
About Johnny Frem

(in the US) ? CNT: Tamara Kaye Sellman, 206.618.7348 (cell/text messages)
About Tamara Kaye Sellman



American authors

JANICE EIDUS (New York) is a novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Eidus has twice won the O. Henry Prize for her short stories, as well as a Redbook Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a National Writers Voice Residency Award, and a Money for Women/Barbara Deming Fellowship. She is the author of the short story collections THE CELIBACY CLUB and VITO LOVES GERALDINE and the novels URBAN BLISS and FAITHFUL REBECCA. She is co-editor (along with John Kastan) of ITS ONLY ROCK AND ROLL: an anthology of rock and roll short stories.

JOHN P. BRIGGS' (Massachusetts) most recent book release is the collection, TRICKSTER TALES. Briggs has published fiction in Prairie Schooner, Northwest Review, Parting Gifts, Pudding Magazine, Art Times, New Novel Review, and many others. A 2003 issue of River Oak Review featured several of his dream stories and an interview about metaphor and chaos in literature. Briggs' published books include THE SEVEN LIFE LESSONS OF CHAOS (coauthored with physicist F. David Peat), FRACTALS: THE PATTERNS OF CHAOS, FIRE IN THE CRUCIBLE: THE ALCHEMY OF CREATIVE GENIUS, and others. Briggs helped to develop the MFA in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University, where he is Distinguished Professor. He is also Senior Editor at Connecticut Review.

EWING CAMPBELL (Texas) is author of WEAVE IT LIKE NIGHTFALL, PIRANESI'S DREAM, MADONNA MALEVA and other books. Campbell received the 2002 American Literary Review and 1998 Chris O?Malley fiction prizes. His work has also been recognized with NEA and Dobie-Paisano fellowships. Campbell was a Fullbright scholar to Argentina in 1989 and Spain in 1997.

KAREN MCELMURRAY (Georgia) is the author of the novel, STRANGE BIRDS IN THE TREES OF HEAVEN, which explores the boundaries between beliefs, desires, obsessions, and madness. McelMurray has received such distinctions as the Chaffin Award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, the James Purdy Prize for Fiction, and an NEA fellowship. She has published essays and stories in numerous magazines and journals. McElMurray will be specially honored in Vancouver by the AWP Award Series for her memoir, SURRENDERED CHILD, which earned the organization's Award for Creative Nonfiction in 2003.

Canadian authors

PAULINE HOLDSTOCK wrote HOUSE, a darkly humourous metaphysical tale of loss and the search for belonging. Holdstock's most recent novel, BEYOND MEASURE, was nominated for the 2004 Giller Prize. She is also the author of numerous short stories within her collections. Her novels and short fiction have been published internationally, and her literary non-fiction has appeared in national newspapers and has been broadcast on CBC radio. Her most recent book is a collection of essays, MORTAL DISTRACTIONS, published by Thistledown.

PAULO DA COSTA was born in Angola and raised in Portugal. His first book of short fiction, THE SCENT OF A LIE, received the 2003 Commonwealth First Book Prize for the Canada-Caribbean Region and the W. O Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize. His poetry and fiction have been published internationally in literary magazines around the world and have been translated to Italian, Spanish, German, Serbian, Slovenian and Portuguese. His latest works are MIDWIFE OF TORMENT & OTHER STORIES, a CD of sudden fictions, and NOTAS-DE-RODAPE, a book of Portuguese poems.

Posted by at 9:57 AM PST
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Topic: March 2005
Kazuo Ishiguro is back in the magical realist ring again with Never Let Me Go, reviewed here by Louis Menand for The New Yorker. Writes Menand: "Ishiguro does not write like a realist. He writes like someone impersonating a realist, and this is one reason for the peculiar fascination of his books. He is actually a fabulist and an ironist, and the writers he most resembles, under the genteel mask, are Kafka and Beckett. This is why the prose is always slightly overspecific. It?s realism from an instruction manual: literal, thorough, determined to leave nothing out. But it has a vaguely irreal effect." Exactly.

WHEN IN DENVER... You ought to check out up-and-coming playwright Jose Rivera's latest work at the Crossroads Theatre. Marisol is the story of a woman who survives (by the hands of a guardian angel) what should have been a fatal beating by street thugs, only to learn from her guardian angel that this will be the last time he will be helping her because of a shift in God's powers. Rivera, whose mentor was Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and who earned famed in 2002 for washing away Los Angeles in Cloud Tectonics, has taken up the end-of-the-world cause in New York this time with this new "mystical urban nightmare." Marisol runs through April 2. For more information, or call 303.320.4011.

The Stanford Daily's Innovation Columnist Daniel Berdichevsky makes some interesting points about the way in which magical realism has been enculcated into mainstream literary culture: "What used to be referred to as magical realism has bled over into fiction in general. Maybe this is why science fiction cliches, like time travel and memory manipulation, can form the bases of critically acclaimed films like The Butterfly Effect and Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind without them even being branded as science-fiction."

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21 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
SUBMISSIONS ADDRESS UPDATE If you are interested in submitting to Margin via e-mail, please direct your submissions to submissions (at) The address at this domain is extremely reliable and replaces our previous service at Flashmail, which lost about 5 weeks of submissions on file in our previous mailbox on March 17, 2005.

Reviewer Stuart Klawans in Newsday magazine describes Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as a combination of magical realism in the style of Marc Chagall with an updated Huck Finn-like quality. Klawans writes: "Which brings me back to the ostensible reason for telling a sad story humorously: to be truthful. As the charming, imaginative probabilities piled up in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I began to think of another small and voluble survivor named Oskar: the narrator of Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum."

And here's another reference to Chagall... Fernanda Eberstadt, reviewer for yesterday's The New York Times, refers to the artist in magical realist author Steve Stern's latest work, The Angel of Forgetfulness, when describing the ancient character Keni Shendeldecker, a once-footloose and fancy-free artist of "Chagall-like magic realist paintings of ghetto scenes" who becomes the love interest of a college student in 1969. Think that's improbable? Of course it is, but so are many other fabulist elements in Stern's mystical novel, including dybbuks, angels and golems.

"Can multiculturalism have a white face? If Caribbean-American novelist Robert Antoni is any indication, the answer has to be yes," asserts Chauncey Mabe, Books Editor for The Sun-Sentinel & South Florida Interactive. Magical realist author Robert Antoni (Divina Trace, Blessed Is the Fruit and My Grandmother's Erotic Folktales) will read from his new novel Carnival at 8 p.m. on Wednesday March 23 at Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL (305.442.4408). The Broward County Main Library will also present "An Evening with Robert Antoni" at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday March 24 at the Bienes Center in Fort Lauderdale. This event is free, but reservations are requested (954.357.7401).

FANS OF OPERA AND MAGICAL REALISM: Composer Hector Armienta specializes in bilingual operas. Among these are Un Camino de Fe/A Journey of Faith and Los Conejos y las Conejas/The Coyotes and the Rabbits, as well as an in-progress trilogy of operas, which he describes as containing a bit of "Mexican and Latin American magical realism" based on his abuela's experiences. Armienta recently made his world premiere in the lauded "Words and Music" concert spotlight in Oakland, where his composition for narrator, chorus and orchestra based on the prize-winning poem "Where Waters Meet" by Sonoma County fifth grader Hailee Brumley was performed last Saturday.

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18 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
Fans of magical realism's tales of uberhumanity might want to read this arch overview of Jonathan Lethem's work in The New York Review of Books. In "Welcome to New Dork," critic John Leonard exposes the differences between the world's literary supermen, past and present. From the commentary: "Superpowers are not what magic realism was about in Bulgakov, Kobo Abe, Salman Rushdie, or the Latin American flying carpets. That Michael Chabon and Paul Auster have gone graphic, that one Jonathan, Lethem, writes on and on about John Ford, while another Jonathan, Franzen, writes on and on about "Peanuts," even as Rick Moody confides to the Times Book Review that "comics are currently better at the sociology of the intimate gesture than literary fiction is," may just mean that the slick magazines with the scratch and sniff ads for vodka and opium are willing to pay a bundle for bombast about ephemera." Zoinks!

Magical realist poet Hermine Meinhard will teach a poetry workshop Saturday, June 11 ? 18, 2005 on a working farm in the wine country of Tuscany as part of "The Soul of a Poem in the Heart of Italy" workshop in Il Chiostro Villas. The workshop is limited to 10-12 participants; for more information, contact Hermine Meinhard or visit the workshop website

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17 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
It's contest time again at MARGIN. Next up?short stories! Announcing our 2005 theme for the annual MARGIN short story contest:

We're looking for every kind of war scenario:
man v. man ~ country v. country ~ man v. nature ~ man v. woman?
?any sort of collision of power structures, both personal and political. Just make sure it's magical realism!

Postmark deadline: June 15, 2005. Winner and honorable mentions published in MARGIN's autumn edition, annually.
Prize: $100 and publication.
Entry fee: $8 per story; no limit to stories. Make checks payable to Tamara Kaye Sellman.
All contest proceeds go to our contributor's fund and to pay the prize. Judged blind by staff. See guidelines for more information.

Click here to read the MARGIN 2004 SHORT STORY WINNER.


Magical Realist author Daniel Olivas has sent along this call for submissions:

"I am editing an anthology of short fiction by Latinos/as in which the City of Los Angeles plays an integral role. I am interested in provocative stories on virtually any subject by both established and new writers. Stories may range from social realism to cuentos de fantasma and anything in between. Los Angeles may be a major 'character' or merely lurking in the background. I'd like to see characters who represent diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, profession, age, sexual orientation, etc.

"Preferred length: 500 to 5,000 words. Stories may be previously published (please indicate where). Chapters from novels will be considered if they can stand alone. Award-winning publisher is interested but wants to see final manuscript.

"Please e-mail your story, using standard submission formatting, as a Word document to olivasdan (at) In the e-mail, include your contact information, list of previous publications (if any), and the ethnicity(ies) with which you identify.

"DEADLINE: September 1, 2005.

"Feel free to visit my Web page at:"

Posted by at 9:29 AM PST
Updated: 17 March 2005 10:32 AM PST
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15 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
Spotted last weekend at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival: Turtles Can Fly, an "incredible, magic realist war story, set on the eve of the United States' latest invasion of Iraq." SEE IT TONIGHT! >>> Tues/15, 6:30 p.m., Kabuki screen [Genl Info]

Dr. Gregory Rabassa enjoyed an occasion to discuss magical realist author Clarice Lispector in an appearance at the Center for Jewish History last Sunday. In an article in The New York Times books section, he is said to recall that "I was flabbergasted to meet that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf." Rabassa is a living treasure; keep your eyes open for his memoir, If This Be Treason, which is due for release in April.

Sighted recently on MTV: A 13-second appearance in which Paulo Coelho of The Alchemist fame provides this voice-over?"The desert will give you an understanding of the world. How do I immerse myself in the desert? Listen to your heart"?while the sun sets over a pyramid in Egypt.

Author Anjali Banerjee's debut magical realist YA novel, Maya Running, has received accolades not only in the US, but raves in the old country (India) as well. MARGIN will be offering copies of Banerjee's wonderful book for sale at the AWP Bookfair in Vancouver BC March 30 through April 2. Make sure and drop by table #208 if you are attending the AWP conference and pick up a copy of Anjali's book!

From Playbill comes this heads up for magical realism fans regarding the line-up for the 35th anniversary season of the Manhattan Theatre Club's "Writers in Performance" series: "The 400th anniversary of Cervantes' Don Quixote will be celebrated April 4 in an evening titled The Don. Quixote, which is widely regarded as the world's first modern novel, will be interpreted by Mario Cantone, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Daphne Rubin-Vega. Don Quixote translator Edith Grossman will introduce the evening, which will also feature a live score by Julie Lyonn Lieberman. ?The literary series is "dedicated to melding fiction, nonfiction and poetry with the stage in creative and provocative ways." The MTC's Stage I is located at 131 West 55th Street in Manhattan. Single-event tickets ($17.50) available at (212) 399-3030.

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14 March 2005
Topic: March 2005
If you're in the San Francisco area, you'll not want to miss Margin contributor Jan Steckel's featured performance at the Stories by the Lake Prose Open Mic in Oakland on Saturday, March 19 from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. Dr. Steckel, an Oakland writer, bisexual activist and former pediatrician, has published over fifty short stories, poems and nonfiction pieces in periodicals and anthologies. The event is free to the public; open mic signups begin at 1:45.

Magical realism in theater gets a nice boost in Portland, ME with the current production of Quiara Alegria Hudes' Yemaya's Belly. And article in describes the play as "set in the Caribbean?about a young boy from a backwater island village, who dreams of living in America. Using storytelling techniques she learned from her own family, Hudes weaves magical realism and realistic events together to tell the story of the boy's journey." The play has attracted a steady following since its debut on March 1; it runs through March 20.

The film, Millions, is making the rounds with what some have characterized a "buoyant sense of magical realism." The film is directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting andShallow Grave fame. Boyle appears to have one-upped himself with this softer, more family-friendly film. Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News describes Millions as a "warmly fanciful movie" which features the saints Clare, Francis, Joseph, Nicholas and Peter, as well as the ghost of the boys' dead mother. Mathews writes: "Boyle has a child's exuberance about him that explains the gentle wit, magical realism and easy sentimentality" of his latest work. The film was widely released in the US on March 11.

Literary favorite Kelly Cherry returns to the limelight with her story, "As It Is in Heaven," in which the protagonist, forced to leave life in Madison, WI to tend an ailing mother, suddenly discovers her late father in the kitchen eating ice cream. The story's ending has been described as "stunning, incredibly moving" and a "flight into magical realism." The story recently appeared in the newly released anthology, Barnstorm, published by Terrace Books, an imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press.

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