Scholar Frederick Luis Aldama makes the case that the term has encouraged critics and readers to misread Latin American literature, particularly in regard to their ignoring the very real and important economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the works. . . .
Aldama coins the term “magicorealism” to differentiate between what he claims to be genuine and authentic use of the narrative style (Rushdie and Castillo) from the consumerist term “magic realism” and various simplistic imitations (Isabel Allende and Sandra Benitez). The difference between the two, he argues, is that the metafictional, self-reflexive work, by calling attention to itself as a fiction (as in Márquez or Rushdie or Acosta) prevents the reader from falsely understanding magical realist qualities as some verifiable characteristic of a primitive people, some actual part of their belief systems. The playfulness of genuine magicorealism, he claims, prevents primitivizing of the other, the foreign, the exotic. In the simplistic imitations, the reader is led to confuse the art with the reality and free to imagine that characters (and societies, cultures) live in some exotic land of the miraculous, and are therefore re-moved and irrelevant in some way. Confusing the text, the magic of the writing, with reality thus discourages readers from concerning themselves with the economic exploitation and political manipulation of such strange and fantastic subaltern others in postcolonial countries. . . .
Perhaps the most daring and interesting thing that Aldama does in this book is suggest a sort of reclassification of experimental, nonrealist works of literature. In his view, the overall category is magicorealism and all sorts of narrative experimentation become subcategories in this larger sphere, replacing, it seems, post modernism with magicorealism. What was once, for me anyway, a type of post modernist prose or a specific narrative device associated with high modernism is, for Aldama, something that falls under the larger heading of magicorealism. . . .
Postethnic Narrative Criticism asks that readers rethink their critical interpretive lens (remove the magical realist rose colored glasses in a sense) and see in the art itself that more often than not these artists are in fact critiquing concrete realities about people within the economic, racial, and ethnic fringes of societies in the world. Appreciation of the comic element of these works and understanding of the self-reflective nature of this type of narration, he argues, will lead the critic to underestimate no longer the postcolonial realities beneath the game playing. Thus, he speaks of the importance of the “mime-sis-as-play” tradition from Cervantes to Joyce to Rulfo (34). The best parts of Aldama’s work highlight the comic traditions of parody, hyperbole, and the carnivalesque, the pícaro and the trickster, and the narrative games of mixing genres. These are elements of narrative that alter perspectives and might eventually “affect our vision of the world” (109).