Magic realism in contemporary American women's fiction
The aim of the study is to illustrate the importance of magic realism in American women's fiction in the late twentieth century. The term magic realism, which has traditionally been associated with Latin American men's writing, has been known by different, and often contradictory, definitions. It may be argued that, properly defined, it can be a valid term to describe a number of characteristics common to a corpus of work, and can be considered as an aesthetic category different from others such as Surrealism or Fantastic literature, with which it has often been compared. Furthermore, magic realism has viability as a contemporary international mode and is particularly suitable to women writers from minority ethnic groups. The present study intends to draw relevant comparative analyses of uses of magic realism that show various formal and thematic interactions between separate literary traditions. The introduction offers an overview of the different conceptions and applications of the term since its origins within the area of painting, and suggests a working definition that can be effective for intensive textual analysis of several novels. In order to offer a new approach which can enable us to move away the paradigm of magic realism from Latin America towards a more multicultural framework, the focus will be on three geographical-cultural areas: African American, Native American and Chicano/Mexican writing. The implementation of magic realist strategies in African American writing will be examined in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977) and Gloria Naylor's Mama Day (1988), with a particular emphasis on the significance of African mythical background and the experience of dispossession and transference of culture. Magic realist elements in the novels Tracks (1988) by Louise Erdrich and Ceremony (1977) by Leslie Marmon Silko will be studied in the context of Native American oral tradition and cosmologies. The practice of magic realism on both sides of the U. S. - Mexico border will be explored in the novels So Far from God (1993), by the Chicana Ana Castillo, and Like Water for Chocolate (1989), by the Mexican Laura Esquivel. A description of the borderland culture in the American Southwest, as well as comparisons between North and Latin American uses of magic realism will be provided. Finally, some connections amongst the discussed literary traditions and further lines of research will be suggested.