Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloudCloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell is a postmodernist novel that has been adapted into a film.

Postmodernist themes: different narrators and narrative techniques (journal writing, letters, mystery-novel, and interview; also newspaper clippings), simulacra and simulation, intertextuality (the stories are interconnected and mentioned), allusions (real and imaginary) to other literary works, consumerism (Sonmi narrative) and historicizing the characters.

Continue reading

The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibson

watachmenThe Watchmen by  Alan Moore and Dave Gibson is considered to be one of the top ten graphic novels (Time). The narrative has twelve chapters (in picture panels) interspersed with reports of different kinds. The non-comic narratives are: Holis Mason’s autobiography (Under the Hood), Professor Milton Glass’s report (Dr Manhattan: Super-Powers and the Superpowers), Ch 5 of the Treasure Island Treasury of Comics, prison and psychological reports of  Rorschach, Drieberg’s “Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas (Journal of the American Ornithological society), excerpts from the newspaper (New Frontiersman), news articles, fan mail and interview  about Sally (Silk Spectre), Viedt’s correspondence on figurines of Ozymandias, and interview with Veidt (“After the Maquerade”).

Continue reading

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

like water for chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate  (1989) by Laura Esquivel  is another example of magic realism by a female author. It narrates the experiences of Tita, the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, who falls in love with Pedro but marries him after twenty years, after Rosaura, her sister and his legal wife, dies. The book is divided into twelve chapters, each corresponding to a month of the year and a recipe that was cooked during that month.

Themes: magic realism, love, food and cooking, family (including the relationship between Gertrudis and Tita and Elena’s cruelty), history (Mexican Revolution), and the power of traditions.

Women in the family: Mama Elena; her daughters, Gertrudis, Rosaura, and Tita (real name, Josefita); Nacha, the cook; and Chencha, the maid.

Continue reading

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho A. Anya

ultimaBless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho A. Anya is an example of a magical realism novel. It can be read as a bildungsroman as it chronicles the growth of Antonio, a young boy whose life takes a turn when a Ultima, a medicine woman, comes to live with his family.

Themes: women, community, the power of dreams, family and ancestors, man vs nature, and religion (organized vs pagan).

Ultima is a curandera, “a woman who knew the herbs and remedies of the ancients, a miracle-worker who could heal the sick” who “could lift the curses laid by brujas” and “exorcise the evil the witches planted in people to make them sick. And because a curandera had this power she was misunderstood and often suspected of practicing witchcraft herself” (4).

Continue reading

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

NamesakeThe Namesake (2004) by Jhumpa Lahiri is, again, a personal favorite. After reading it again, I relaized that it is an ordinary story of two generations of the Ganguli fmaily but this time, as an immigrant, I could connect more to the situations of Ashima Ganguli.

Themes: identity (Gogol and Gogol), home and the diaspora, immigrant, relationships (Gogol and his partners, Ashima and Ashoke, and the community of immigrants), and food.

Continue reading

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

allende3

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is one of the few magic realism novels by a female author. It was Allende’s debut novel, published in 1982. It narrates the lives of four generations of the Trueba family. Clara is the most ‘magical’ character. There are also elements of Marxism both as a form of government as well as in the relations between Esteban Trueba and his tenants. There are also grand descriptions of the decorations in the “the big house on the corner;” the house reflects the relationships as well as upheavals in the family’s social and economic positions.  This novel reminded me of Julia Alvarez‘s In the Time of the Butterflies in Alba’s imprisonments and Maryse Conde‘s Windward Heights (which itself is a retelling of Wuthering Heights) in term sof the descriptions and a multi-generational narrative.

Continue reading

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

The_Tin_Drum_coverThe Tin Drum by Gunter Grass is a postmodernist novel. Oskar Matzerath is the protagonist of the story. It is begins with him in a mental hospital. On his third birthday, he decided not to grow up, physically and psychologically. He also decides to beat his tin drum always. Oscar lives through the Third Reich and has numerous adventures (summary).

Themes: war, society, relationships (father-son, wife-husband, and mother-son), performance (circus), narration, and identity.

Continue reading