I have always enjoyed reading certain writers — Gabriel García Márquez, Leslie Marmon Silko, Isabel Allende, Italo Calvino — whose works are often grouped together as magical realism. I think I know why. The world of these writers is, in a significant way, the world of the shaman, the visionary world, in which reality is interfused with the miraculous.
El realismo magical, lo real maravilloso americano, is deeply associated with the resurgent literature of South America, and is characterized by a detailed realism into which there erupts — in a way often experienced as unremarkable — the magical world of the spirits. Critics David Mikics, Derek Walcott, and Alejo Carpentier say that magical realism "projects a mesmerizing uncertainty suggesting that ordinary life may also be the scene of the extraordinary."
This idea is often expressed, as one commentator puts it, as "exploring — and transgressing — boundaries.” In a 1969 interview, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez said, of his own magical realist writings, ”My most important problem was to destroy the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic. Because in the world that I was trying to evoke, that barrier didn’t exist.”
Thus the visionary world does what literary critic Theo L. D’Haen calls "decentering privileged centers." Magical realist texts — and thus the visionary world itself — are ontologically subversive. The magically realist world subverts the privileged ontological center that dichotomously divides experience into the real and the unreal.
This zone is the world of the shaman — the vision, the apparition, the lucid dream, seeing through the ordinary to the miraculous luminescence of the spirits, perceiving the omnipresent pure sound of the singing plants.