41 pages 1 hour read

Elizabeth Acevedo

Family Lore

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Genre Context: Latin American Magical Realism

Magical realism is a literary genre characterized by its blend of fantastical and ordinary elements. The term was introduced in 1927 by German art critic Franz Roh as “magischer realismus,” which he used to describe a new German style of painting that emphasized the fantastical elements of ordinary objects. “Magical realism” was coined in 1955 by literary critic Angel Flores, who named Jorge Luis Borges the first magical realist for his collection of short stories Historia Universal de la Infamia (1935). Some argue Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (1915) was the first popular example of magical realism, but nevertheless, the genre became popular in Latin America, and its writers made the genre what it is today.

Unlike traditional fantasy, magical realists create stories wherein magic is part of the mundane. Their worlds often draw inspiration from cultural traditions, folklore, and mythology. In Elizabeth Acevedo’s Family Lore, Flor’s ability to foretell deaths through dreams of her teeth crumbling is inspired by Latin American symbolism, wherein teeth are associated with health. Usually, magical realists omit explanation of magic to further reinforce its normalcy.