Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Rating: 4.5 stars
This is my second book finished in my attempt to read three 2017 Man Booker International Prize shortlisted works before the winner is announced next month.
For the first time in a long while, he looked down and saw his hands. If you have had this experience, you’ll know just what I mean.
—Jesse Ball, The Curfew
This quote is somehow a perfect introduction for this short novel, and I’m still not able to explain how. This is a tough book to review, because it’s wonderfully weird, extremely creepy, and has a confusing plot that still isn’t entirely clear after you finish reading it. The main reason I loved it is because of the intense emotions the writing style creates.
About 5 pages in I knew I couldn’t stop until I finished it because of the tension building in every paragraph. The author does a great job at making you feel more and more unsettled, and that forces you to keep reading because you to have find out what is going on. It’s like the “worms” the woman has jumped into my mind and created an itchy feeling in my brain that wouldn’t stop until I figured out what was happening. Is the woman really dying? Who is David? Why does he need the woman to recount her final moments? It’s like you woke up from a dream still carrying that feeling of dread, even though you can’t remember what happened. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop here. But I highly recommend this to everyone who can handle an unsettling story from a dying’s woman’s fever dream.
Also, at this point I wanted to say which of the two shortlisted books I liked better and want to win. It’s hard, though, because they are so different. Judas was thoughtful, while this is unsettling. If anything I would go with Fever Dream, just because of how the author manages to use language to create such a perfectly creepy feeling of dread that takes a while to shake off, even after you put the book down. The translator also did an incredible job making sure that it came through even outside of the author’s natural language.