The fantastic and related subgenres in three contemporary novels.
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Hall, Rebecca G.
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Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine (1984), Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001), and Cynthia Ozick's The Puttermesser Papers (1997) manifest the fantastic and related subgenres. According to structuralist critic Tzvetan Todorov, prose fiction of the fantastic genre dramatizes an intrusion of the supernatural into the rational world, causing the reader to hesitate. Erdrich's uncanny stories show that the healthy self must embody conflicting ideologies. The fantastic in Tan's novel clears a space in which Chinese tradition and Western modernity can coexist through writing. Ozick's novel manifests the marvelous to distinguish between divine creation and human idolatry. Each of the central characters in these novels must justify her disparate selves (the American and Native, or Chinese, or Jewish self); the fantastic is ideal for this purpose because the supernatural intrusion catalyzes the construction of a world in which logic cannot prevent the coexistence of opposites.