Magical Realism Short Stories

In magic realism, the world is largely realistic, but also contains elements of magic or fantasy.

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar

The narrator hates stories about selkies, mythological shape-shifters. Her mother left the family. The narrator works as a waitress at Le Pacha to help pay the bills at home. Her first night was difficult. She left her keys inside after it closed. The only other waitress, Mona, helped her get back in. They also took some wine. Mona cries a lot and is afraid her mother will take her to Egypt.

This story can be read in the collection Tender: Stories(13% into preview)

“The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link

Every week, Genevieve goes to The Garment District, a huge vintage clothing warehouse. She’s looking for her Grandmother Zofia’s faery handbag. It’s big, black and hairy, and fairies live in it. Grandmother Zofia said it was two hundred years old, and that Genevieve would take over its care.

This story can be read in the preview of Magic for Beginners: Stories. (22% into preview)

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In a small town, an old man with wings washes up on shore. There are many ideas about what he is and where he’s from. A couple takes him and locks him up on their property.

This is the eleventh story in the preview of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy(78% into preview)

“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol

A barber, Ivan, cuts into a loaf of freshly baked bread only to find a nose inside. He recognizes the nose as belonging to a regular customer of his, Platon. Fearing he will be in trouble, Ivan thinks about how to get rid of the nose. Meanwhile, Platon wakes up in his home and the absurdities continue.

This is the first story in the preview of Big Book of Best Short Stories: Russian II(5% into preview)

“The Travellers Stay” by Ray Cluley

A couple, Matt and Ann, along with Ann’s teenage son, John, arrive at the Travellers Stay, a run-down motel. A woman sits on the porch, smoking and drinking. She helps them get a room, but her attitude is unusual. Everyone is stressed, and Ann and John in particular aren’t pleased with the accommodations.

This story can be read in the preview of Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror(32% in)

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mrs. Button goes to the hospital for the birth of her first child. Mr. Button soon follows to see how everything went. Doctor Keene is upset and cuts ties with the Button family. The nurses are startled and unhelpful. Mr. Button is finally led to his newborn and discovers the reason for everyone’s shock.

This story can be read in the preview of F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Stories.

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

A man wakes up one morning to find he’s been transformed into a giant insect-like creature. Otherwise, he still feels like his old self.

Read here

“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A drowned man washes up on the beach. While carrying him into the village, the men notice he is heavier and taller than any man they’ve seen. While the women clean him up to prepare him for burial, they see that he’s an amazing specimen, the most impressive man they’ve ever seen.

Read here

“The Rememberer” by Aimee Bender

A man experiences rapid, reverse evolution. He goes from man to ape to sea turtle, losing about a million years a day.

Read “The Rememberer” (Pg 3)

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

The narrator, Jack, remembers when he was a young boy. His mother folded origami animals for him. She was able to breathe life into them. His mother was a mail-order bride from China. As Jack grows up, he draws away from his mother, preferring American toys and food. He won’t answer her if she speaks Chinese. He’s embarrassed by his mom.

“The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges

The narrator’s universe, a Library, is made up of endless galleries full of books. He has been looking for one in particular. It contains every possible book that could ever be written. As a result, most of its contents are complete nonsense.

Read “The Library of Babel”