Mouthful of Birds: Stories (Hardcover)
January 2019 Indie Next List
“Samanta Schweblin set a high standard with her translated debut novel Fever Dream, a standard she has now miraculously surpassed with this unnerving new collection of short stories, a must-read for anyone who doubts the written word’s ability to touch reality. Mouthful of Birds will rattle your bones, infiltrate your mind, and engulf you in a surreal dream-state of bewilderment and ferocity that will leave you fearing to turn the page, even as you beg for more.”
— Tianna Moxley, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
"Superb" -- Vogue
"What makes Schweblin so startling as a writer, however, what makes her rare and important, is that she is impelled not by mere talent or ambition but by vision." -- New York Times
A powerful, eerily unsettling story collection from a major international literary star.
The brilliant stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don't let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary collection featuring women on the edge, men turned upside down, the natural world at odds with reality. We think life is one way, but often, it's not -- our expectations for how people act, love, fear can all be upended. Each character in Mouthful of Birds must contend with the unexpected, whether a family coming apart at the seams or a child transforming or a ghostly hellscape or a murder.
Schweblin's stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blurs.
About the Author
Samanta Schweblin is the author of the novel, Fever Dream, a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize and her first book translated into English. She was chosen as one of the twenty-two best writers in Spanish under the age of 35 by Granta and is on the Bogotá39-2017 list. Her stories in Spanish have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize, and in English have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. Originally from Buenos Aires, she lives in Berlin.
Megan McDowell has translated books by many contemporary South American and Spanish authors, and her translations have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, McSweeney's, Words Without Borders, and Vice, among other publications. She lives in Chile.
"Schweblin is among the most acclaimed Spanish-language writers of her generation.... [H]er true ancestor could only be David Lynch; her tales are woven out of dread, doubles and confident loose ends.... What makes Schweblin so startling as a writer, however, what makes her rare and important, is that she is impelled not by mere talent or ambition but by vision, and that vision emerges from intense concern with the world, with the hidden cruelties in our relationships with all that is vulnerable — children, rivers, language, one another." —New York Times
"The author’s flair for intertwining surrealism with delicate emotionality is again on full display in Mouthful of Birds, a collection of short stories that sit somewhere between miniature mysteries and fairy tales. In this slim and superb book, Schweblin takes on the desire to love, to parent, and to care for one’s own body—hardly extraordinary themes—and invests them with a fresh poignancy." —Vogue
"Admirers of Schweblin's work will be delighted to learn that she hasn't lost any of the atmospheric creepiness that made Fever Dream such an unsettling ride. Mouthful of Birds, is just as ethereal and bizarre as its predecessor, and it proves that Schweblin is a master of elegant and uncanny fiction.... Schweblin is gifted at treating the otherworldly with a matter-of-fact attitude, writing about the surreal as if it were unremarkable.... And her writing, beautifully translated by Megan McDowell, is consistently perfect; she can evoke more feelings in one sentence than many writers can in a whole story. Fans of literature that looks at the world from a skewed point of view will find much to love in Schweblin's book, and so will anyone who appreciates originality and bold risk-taking. Mouthful of Birds is a stunning achievement from a writer whose potential is beginning to seem limitless." —NPR
“[T]he stories cumulatively summon a world in which the civilized is constantly receding and to be a human is to live in a state of desperation.” —The New Yorker
"Surreal, disturbing, and decidedly original.” —Library Journal, starred review
"Schweblin once again deploys a heavy dose of nightmare fuel in this frightening, addictive collection…canny, provocative, and profoundly unsettling." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The Grimm brothers and Franz Kafka pay a visit to Argentina in Samanta Schweblin’s darkly humorous tales of people who have slipped through cracks or fallen down holes into alternate realities." —JM Coetzee
"Schweblin's imagination seemingly knows no bounds.” —Refinery29
“Like her previous work and her award-nominated novel Fever Dream, Mouthful of Birds blurs the line between what is reality, what is fantasy, and what is madness.” —Bustle
“Schweblin is back with this book of short stories, each more unnerving than the last, and all with the unique ability to leave you with that throbbing, pulsing feeling following an electric shock or a sleepless night or a solid scare or all of the above.” —Nylon
"Schweblin builds dense and uncanny worlds, probing the psychology of human relationships and the ways we perceive existence and interpret culture, with dark humor and sharp teeth. An assemblage of both gauzy and substantial stories from an unquestionably imaginative author." —Kirkus Review
"Intense… [has] a visceral effect as Schweblin navigates the extremes of her characters’ actions and thoughts, both healing and destructive.” —Booklist
“In simple, uncluttered prose, these stories manage to dismantle society’s accepted norms then prompt you wonder how to navigate morality without them and question why we ever accepted them in the first place.” —Broadly
Praise for Fever Dream
2017 International Man Booker Prize finalist
"To call Schweblin’s novella eerie and hallucinatory is only to gesture at its compact power; the fantastical here simply dilates a reality we begin to accept as terrifying and true.... Schweblin’s book is suffused with haunting images and big questions." —New York Times Book Review
"Samanta Schweblin’s electric story reads like a Fever Dream." —Vanity Fair
"I picked up Fever Dream in the wee hours, and a low, sick thrill took hold of me as I read it. I was checking the locks in my apartment by page thirty. By the time I finished the book, I couldn’t bring myself to look out the windows…. [T]he genius of Fever Dream is less in what it says than in how Schweblin says it, with a design at once so enigmatic and so disciplined that the book feels as if it belongs to a new literary genre altogether." —Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
"A nauseous, eerie read, sickeningly good." —Emma Cline, The Girls
"Subtle, dreamy and indelibly creepy." —The Economist (Best Books of 2017)
"Never have I ever been so afraid to read a book right before bed." —Marie Claire
"A spare, hypnotic literary page-turner." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Mesmerizing... Schweblin, though, is an artist of remarkable restraint… Schweblin renders psychological trauma with such alacrity that the conceit of a poisoned environment feels almost beside the point." —The Washington Post
"This small debut novel packs a mighty, and lingering, punch.... [A] compact, but explosive, package. Schweblin delivers a skin-prickling masterclass in dread and suspense.... With virtuoso skill, well served in Megan McDowell’s finely textured translation, Schweblin fuses a study in maternal anxiety with an ecological horror story. She refracts both strands through the eerie prism of her narrative, almost as if Henry James had scripted a disaster movie about toxic agribusiness." —The Economist
"Elusiveness takes a terrifyingly creepy form in this dazzling short novel." —NPR
"Unsettling... [T]he novel represents a perfect marriage of form and subject, in which its narrative instability — which is so of the literary moment — viscerally recreates the insecurities of life in the Argentine countryside today.... [Schweblin] has found ways to electrify and destabilize the physical world... [Fever Dream is] the scariest of all things: a ghost story that is, in essence, true." —Los Angeles Times