Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five top books about magical families

Christopher Barzak's latest novel is Wonders of the Invisible World. One of five books about magical families he tagged at
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Morrison’s most famous novel is also perhaps her most magical. While easily reduced to being categorized as a ghost story, Morrison’s technique in this narrative moves beyond most ghost stories. Beloved is the ghost of a daughter murdered by an escaped slave, who does not wish her daughter to be returned to slavery when her former master finds them. In achingly beautiful descriptions, we see the ghost of Beloved come into being years later as her murderess mother expresses a physical manifestation of having her water break, despite not being pregnant. The haunting of the house, which figures into the narrative as the place where the former slave family has taken refuge over the Ohio border in Cincinnati, is painted in magical realist colors, including a swathe of red light that one has to pass through at times, which soaks those who penetrate it in sorrow and regret. The family who struggles with this ghost must overcome the past, which haunts them in various ways, and Morrison’s exploration of ghostliness and hauntings is both painful and beautiful in its rendering.
Read about another entry on the list.

Beloved also appears on Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's ten top list of wartime love stories, Judith Claire Mitchell's list of ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts in literature, Kelly Link's list of four books that changed her, a list of four books that changed Libby Gleeson, The Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Elif Shafak's top five list of fictional mothers, Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten great books you didn't know were science fiction or fantasy, Peter Dimock's top ten list of books that challenge what we think we know as "history", Stuart Evers's top ten list of homes in literature, David W. Blight's list of five outstanding novels on the Civil War era, John Mullan's list of ten of the best births in literature, Kit Whitfield's top ten list of genre-defying novels, and at the top of one list of contenders for the title of the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years.

--Marshal Zeringue