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One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)


Although the English translation of this novel is not an easy read, it has won a legion of devoted admirers. It is the story of a century in the village of Macondo and the descendants of its founder José Arcadio Buendía. The underpinning struggle is the story of political conflict in Latin America. In Macondo, however, just about anything can happen - from the sublime to unreal and comic to tragic.





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Invisible Cities
by Italo Calvino (1972)


Highly original work in which imaginary conversations between Italian adventurer Marco Polo and Tartar ruler Kublai Khan conjure up dreamlike images of 55 fantastic and magical cities. In each, of course, there is also a lesson to learn. A book that defies description or categorisation, readers looking for an intellectually obtuse treat won't be disappointed.





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Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie (1980)


A celebrated child born at the exact moment of Indian independence in 1947 proves to have a telepathic link to the thousand other 'midnight's children', as well as an uncanny sense of danger. Some magical realism sees his life parallel the trials and tribulations of the new nation. Criticism of Indira Gandhi generated some controversy, for which Rushdie seems to have quite a knack.





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Sophie's World
by Jostein Gaarder (1991)


A teenage girl is tutored in the history of philosophy through correspondence with a man named Alberto Knox. Things get surreal when Sophie starts receiving letters from a father addressed to his daughter. Sophie and Knox begin to suspect they are but characters in a novel and set out to unravel the mystery. Deep stuff on the philosophical side, with a very clever storyline.





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The Alchemist
by Paulo Coehlo (1995)


With his synthesis of mysticism, spirituality, meditation and the supernatural Brazilian Paulo Coehlo has become one of the world's most revered writers. The Alchemist is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who sets off to Egypt in search of treasure. A Gypsy, a man who would be king and an alchemist point him in the right direction, be it worldly or otherwise. Brilliant.





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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
by Michael Chabon (2000)


This Pulitzer Prize winning story follows the struggle of a young Jewish refugee to free his family from Nazi tyranny in the lead-up to American involvement in WWII. The medium for the enterprise is the superhero comic books he produces with his cousin based on the exploits of the Escapist. Chabon cleverly intertwines fantasy elements like magic and golems into the mix.





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Kafka on the Shore
by Haruki Murakami (2002)


Eminently readable yet mind-bendingly complex, Japanese author Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore' follows the linked paths of a teenage boy who has run away from home and a dullard WWII veteran who can talk to cats. At stages we get fish raining from the sky, old soldiers who don't age, and even Colonel Sanders. Another remarkable and uncategorisable book by one of today's best.





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The Brief History of the Dead
by Kevin Brockmeier (2006)


A stark reminder of how important it is to remember lost loved ones. A wildlife specialist working in Antarctica becomes the lone survivor of a deadly virus that is wiping out humanity. This is trouble for the inhabitants of 'The City', an otherworldly place populated by the dead who rely on the memories of the living for their existence. A cut above run-of-the-mill fantasy.


Intellectual Fantasy
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