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Natalia Sylvester

When the Supernatural is a Natural Part of Your Culture

I always knew that the main character in my novel would be dead. When I started writing, I didn’t know how he died or why, but I knew the sound of his voice and the kind of jokes he’d make, the way his eyes smiled even when his lips didn’t.

I also knew, even in those very early stages, that Everyone Knows You Go Home would not be magical realism. I knew because I loved and studied and have been deeply influenced by magical realism. Two of the books I most love in the world—Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera—are often used as prime examples of the genre, which fuses magical or fantastical elements into an otherwise realistic story in a very nonchalant fashion. The how or why of the supernatural in these works is never the point; they exist as matter-of-factly as air or the sun, and in turn they illuminate truths in reality that we may miss otherwise. The inexplicable, bizarre nature of the unreal reflects on the inexplicable, bizarre nature of the real.

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