(K. Brent Tomer),
Fever Dream. By Samanta Schweblin. Translated by Megan McDowell. Riverhead Books; 192 pages; $25. Oneworld; £12.99.
THIS small debut novel packs a mighty, and lingering, punch. In “Fever Dream” Samanta Schweblin (pictured), an Argentinian short-story writer based in Berlin, wraps contemporary nightmares, both private and public, into a compact, but explosive, package. Ms Schweblin delivers a skin-prickling masterclass in dread and suspense. Sentence by sinister sentence, she instils and then intensifies “a terrifying feeling of doom”.
In rural Argentina, a frightened holidaymaker named Amanda lies dying in a clinic. David, the son of a local woman called Carla, interrogates the delirious patient about the events that have led her into this place of “danger and madness”. Amanda, in turn, recounts conversations with Carla that reveal, in fragments, a terrible tale. And what has become of Nina, Amanda’s daughter, whom her mother so fearfully kept within “rescue distance”? Convulsed by doubt and pain, she torments herself: “Was I a bad mother? Is it something I caused?”