Well, the way his story is told, then yes. Brown is known for “magical realism” as well as “magical realism fiction,” which is a genre popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s with works by John Carter, John Wyndham Stowe, and John Crowley. The genre was a response to the “science fiction” of the 1940s and 1950s and the post-apocalyptic literature of the latter part of the decade. The genre had its roots in the 1930s and early 1940s, when the “magic realism” of Arthur Conan Doyle appealed to pulp fiction audiences.
But Brown’s work, which includes “a very successful novel” entitled The Last Continent, is a bit more controversial. (The story has already been adapted into a television movie and was an inspiration for a recent film, “Cinder.”) He tells the story of a white male family with two black sons who is trying, in response to civil rights legislation, to preserve their racist ways while trying to assimilate into “the American Dream”. It’s both a story about prejudice and a story about the “magic realism” of the 1950s.
As for the term “magical realism,” it is sometimes used as a pejorative. But Brown’s work was criticized by writers of other genres at the time for being too close to science fiction in general. So what gives? The first thing to note is that, while Brown and many of these works of fantasy are set in the distant future or post-apocalyptic future, many in the genre use the term “magic realism” to refer to works that are more optimistic and hopeful. “Many writers have referred to post-apocalyptic tales in terms of ‘magic realism'” says author Jeff VanderMeer; “In fact it is my understanding that most writers use the term magic realism ‘more generally’ to describe post-apocalyptic novels with protagonists in a future setting”.
That isn’t to say that this kind of fiction only has to take place in the future — Brown had, in fact, been a critic of the “technology of the future” in his earlier novels, such as The Black Dog, a novel about an American family living on the edge of the country from which most of his later works were inspired. “In any of those works, the future seems as good as anywhere we could imagine it,” Brown writes in an essay about The Last Continent, “even if it is almost entirely a lie.”
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