Cover Image: Magical Realism for Non-Believers

Magical Realism for Non-Believers

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Member Reviews

THIS OWNVOICE STORY WAS BEAUTIFUL  AND ENCHANTING! 

Warning: there are deathbed and terminal illness scenes.

This was joyful and heartbreaking at the same the time. But mostly, it was like going home, in every sense of the way, physically and emotionally, which is usually a bittersweet experience.  This story resonated with me at so many levels! 

I often try to imagine my kids visiting the country were I was born and how it would look through their eyes all the strange shapes, color, sounds, smells and textures that once were so familiar to me.

And I think that’s what I found more enchanting about the story, besides the personal connection:, how sensorial it is. The author does a great job immersing the reader in her all senses and emotions. 

And when a place and a culture is described through outsiders eyes in a normalized not judgmental way (mostly due to the fact it’s an ownvoice story) it’s there is so much to gain from it! So much that native eyes wouldn’t notice anymore. 

We all have pieces of ourselves that don’t belong to us. they were created by someone else, somewhere else, even before we existed; and it often takes a lifetime to put them altogether and figure out who we really are. The storyline may seem chaotic, jumping to different timelines but, magically, you see the pieces of the memoir coming together. 

If you evocative writing, like to experience other cultures, and stories about search for identity with that magical quality  you can’t quite put your finger on... I cannot recommended this book enough!
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A beautiful tangle of narrative and memory reminiscent of Didion, MAGICAL REALISM was captivating from start to finish and was both a mirror and a window into the life of Fajardo and her family.
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A young woman from Minnesota searches out the Colombian father shes never known in this powerful exploration of what family really means. Thank you so much to Univ Of Minnesota Press for the ARC. This is a good memoir not a book that you HAVE to read.
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I related to Fajardo's deep need to figure out how to connect to a side of her family that was previously inaccessible especially as it can be difficult to move past the misconceptions of American prejudices or the things your parent has told you all your life. Fajardo writes well which carries you through this book which at times can feel a little choppy or flat.
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Fajardo's entire Colombian identity is erased when her Minnesotan mother leaves her Colombian father. He writes a few times, but it isn't until she turns 21 does she reconnect with him and takes a visit. This memoir begins and ends with that initial visit as Fajardo tells the story that led to that moment. She learns a great deal about Colombia, her father, and her parent's life together before the split. She reconnects with her native country. 

There are many allusions to the literature of Colombia. Specifically, she alludes to 100 Years of Solitude. Her work here along with the Sound of Things Falling and the Fruit of the Drunken Tree also discusses the hard reality of the Colombian drug war and civil war. Her story focuses on the interior drama of marriage, infidelity, and family. 

Favorite Passages

"You never really know the provenance of things outside your line of vision." (65)

"One Hundred Years of Solitude was published just before my mother first arrived in Colombia when magical realism was part of the landscape, not a literary genre. When healers and lost daughters, secret affairs, and illegitimate children were the rule, not the exception. Before literature stole away rainstorms of fireflies and sleeping sickness. These things existed in Colombia and were not flights of fancy. (79)

"We are all half something, I supposed. Half our mothers and half our fathers. Half our upbringing and half our genes. Half our fantasies, half our realities. And after all the halves come the quarters, the eights, until we can't be divided anymore, the pieces of ourselves too small to count. (94)

"But nothing releases anger better than destroying something you love. (97)

"As we walked across the plaza, she told me about the ghost woman. She told me that you can hear the ghost singing mass in Latin and that some people go crazy after seeing her. As I listened my mind wandered to Allende, Borges, Garcia Marquez. I had read enough magical realism to know that Latin America is fond of the imaginary, the line between real and fantasy blurry. Just like the division between political protest and drug smuggling is permeable, the demarcation between good and bad is changeable malleable and flued. Ancient family trees intertwine and heal where they have been hacked down. Friends can become enemies as easily as acquaintances can become family. The line tends to be moa moving target, and instead of questioning it is better to accept. (135)
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I read a lot of memoirs; a lot of powerful, tear-jerking memoirs. Unfortunately, Magical Realism for Non-Believers fell a little flat. It read almost like a soap opera. I didn't feel a connection, or really a *why* for the majority of the book.
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Thank you University of Minnesotta Press and Netgalley for this ARC.

Memoirs are one of my favourite go to genres.  I love them because when written well I can feel, for a short time that I have experienced part of another persons life and experiences.  This book did this for me and was written in such a beautiful manner.  I loved the language and style of writing used by Anika and exploring a little of two places I have never been.
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Anika Fajardo's writing is so lovely and generous. In this memoir, Fajardo explores a great deal about family (particularly family secrets and unknown aspects of family history) and identity (especially as it relates to place and relationships with others). She makes great use of imagination, which can be tricky and even unpleasant to read in memoir if it is not done judiciously, to explore alternate possibilities. This is part travel memoir (trips from Minnesota to Colombia), but mostly a complex, thoughtful reflection on what does (and doesn't) create family.
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Anika was raised by her mother and only met her father when she was 21 and traveled to Colombia. This is a memoir of her relationship with her father, her mother, her husband and all the other relatives she meets along the way. It is beautifully written; a poignant tale of family, secrets, and forgiveness. 

This book will not appeal to everyone. The story is not told in a straightforward narrative, but rather in a series of vignettes and flashbacks. For some readers it will be confusing, but for others it will be obvious that this is the way people tell stories about themselves. Current day tales are mixed with remembrances and then-current events and the listener/reader fits the pieces together to create a coherent narrative. Fajardo's descriptive passages are just beautiful, and she puts the reader right in the heart of rural and urban Colombia, California, and Minnesota. A beautiful memoir about love and family that, unfortunately, will probably be missed by most readers.
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This memoir did not do it for me. It seemed emotionally overwrought and melodramatic, I had to check that it wasn't fiction. Normally memoirs aren't quite this over the top. It's about finding family which I normally enjoy but I just didn't like the point of view or style at all and it took me out of the story.
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I can relate to this book. With all the new ways of locating family, it's tougher for our parents and grandparents generation to hide secrets.  Discovering unknown family members is exciting and scary at the same time. And really sad for the time lost with loved ones. It's hard to recoup. And while time does blur memories, it doesn't do much for the holes i our hearts of whats been lost or denied us. I enjoyed reading about Anika's experience. I hope more people wrote about their own experiences in the future.
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Magical Realism for Non-Believers, was a great journey of family discovery.  Anika Fajardo’s feelings and upbringing seem to lead her to missing parts or a sense of emptiness.  How the missing pieces fell into place enlightening her, which helped to build the true family that was waiting all along.   A truly enjoyable adventure, Thank you Netgalley for this trip.
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REALLY GOOD!!!!!! As an enthusiast of magical realism i was SO HAPPy and charmed!! I rarely ever read memoirs but this one really grabbed meTo quote Channing Tatum (yeah i know) its a CLEAN, RAD AND POWERFUL book tbh!!!! Its a really warm and lovely story!
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Vivid, touching story of a woman's search for her family history, and the father she grew up without. While the plot and experience follow a fairly traditional path, the real beauty of this story is in the complexity and interplay of emotions on all sides, which the writer does a beautiful job of exploring.
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Magical Realism has been one of my favorite genres for quite some time, perhaps ever since I stumbled upon Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in a thrift store (and, yes, you can stumble upon it.  I practically lived under a rock).  So, when I saw Anika Fajardo's title of her memoir, I thought it would be right up my alley.  Unfortunately, it did not meet my expectations.

Fajardo's memoir focuses on her journey to meet her estranged father in Columbia, a place where she knew she was born but otherwise had no memories of.  Instead, she and her mother lived in Minnesota, very far from Columbia, both geographically and culturally.  

Her journey calls to question her identity and the definition of family.  She recalls at a point in elementary school that a teacher once told her that "every family has a father" after she drew only her mother and herself in a crayon-portrait of her family for an assignment.  This stung, as I remember having a teacher do something so ignorant and hurtful as this to me around that age as well after my father passed.

There are no doubt touching moments.  The writing can at times be extremely beautiful and poignant.  However, it was also at times stilted and forced, and while the story was quite relate-able (likely even more so for those who struggle with cultural identity), unfortunately it just didn't grab my interest.  Finally, if there was any connection to magical realism other than the complicated family ties and setting that may be similar to Marquez's novel, it was too weak for me to perceive.

Thank you to Anika Fajardo, University of Minnesota Press, and Netgalley for allowing me to access this book to review.  As always, all opinions are my own.
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In the “Magical Realism For Non-Believer’s: A Memoir of Finding Family” (2019) author Anika Fajardo would begin her journey in young adulthood to meet her father she never knew and understand her family dynamic. When she flew to Colombia in 1995, the region was one of the most lawless, corrupt, and violent places on the face of the earth—with high murder rates linked to gang activity and the drug trade. This wouldn’t stop fearless Anika, as an only child she was eagerly welcomed by her father Renzo and his second wife Ceci.

The story is rich in details of South American culture, customs and language, travel and landscapes etc. It was refreshing that the story was centered from a compassionate point of view without critical judgment as Anika began to understand her own family history, the failure of her parent’s marriage, and her mother’s decision to raise her in Minnesota away from her Colombian birthplace, and sadly, without her father. 

Anika’s open mind would serve her well, and prepare her to eventually form and support her own solid and happy family as a wife, mother, sister and aunt.  Anika Fajardo is an award winning author,  her writing has been published in numerous independent publications. This is her first book. With  thanks and appreciation to the University of Minnesota Press via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.
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I requested this book because I too live in Minnesota, and I appreciate reading about perspectives other than my own. I appreciated reading about the author's struggles growing up in the same area as me and felt empathetic toward her plight.
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I enjoyed this down to earth memoir.  I was drawn to the cross cultural theme (Fajardo’s mom is American and her dad is Colombian).

The author had the opportunity in adulthood to get acquainted with her father. Doing so led to  some BIG revelations that rocked her world.  She described her journey through this terrain well, making it easy to imagine myself in her shoes.

I found this to be a slow but rewarding read.  Thanks to NetGalley and  the University of Minnesota Press for the opportunity.
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Only two years after being born in Colombia, Anika Fajardo's parents split and her mother moved her to Minnesota. Almost twenty years later, Anika traveled to Colombia to meet her father for the first time since the split. In  Magical Realism for Non-Believers,  she explores the ties of family, identity, and paths not taken.

Fajardo has an interesting story and perspective, and I appreciate the themes she takes on in this memoir. It's often overwrought with heavy metaphors and the narrative voice doesn't always feel consistent, but overall, I enjoyed it. I didn't mind the skipping around in the story other reviewers disliked, but I wish we had gotten to hear a little more of Fajardo's personality come through the over embellished prose.
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Finding out you have a family you never knew about can be psychologically jarring, especially if you’ve always believed in your specialness as an only child. Through a visit to a Colombian father, she’d never known existed, Anika Fajardo also discovers she has a half brother in the United States. A well-written memoir, but I just couldn’t connect. I’m sure others will find her story compelling, especially those who have “found” family members.
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