Garcia Marquez is well-known for his ability to blend native South American legends with European myths and stories. Even in a story as short as "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" one can find allusions to the biblical story of Jonah (through the children's assumption that the form washing ashore is a beached whale), Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (in which a shipwrecked man washes ashore in a country full of tiny people), and even the Greek god Zeus, whose sexual prowess highlights many Greek myths.
The arrival of a "Wednesday dead body" on the shore of a fishing village is not necessarily a magical event. What brings the story into the realm of the fabulous is the reaction of the villagers, whose response to his arrival is anything but ordinary. That a dead man can have so much influence on a village full of people who seem used to finding drowning victims on their beach creates a sense that this event is something extraordinary. The mythical namelessness of the village and the historically vague setting add to this perception. At the same time, details such as the ocean liner at the end of the story ground it firmly in a real place and time. Thus the story is neither fantasy, nor reality, but a combination of the two.
The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World, BookRags