Strange can be quite normal. Strange can just be the phrase 'That is not important' as an answer for everything. But if your son never answered you that way before, then the fourth time you ask him why he's not eating, or if he's cold, or you send him to bed, and he answers, almost biting off the words as if he were still learning to talk, 'That is not important', I swear to you Amanda, your legs start to tremble. Fever Dream, by Samantha Schweblin
Our second choice for The Introverted Book Club was this nail biting, anxiety inducing, extraordinarily addictive novella by Argentinian author Samantha Schweblin. This is the first of her work to be translated into English (and so, so thankful it was!).
Fever Dream holds no bars. It chucks you in the deep end from the opening paragraph and once you're in, you're in. Find a comfortable spot, because you'll be sat there for the next few hours while you devour this (and probably a few more as you'll want to re-read it immediately afterwards).
Schweblin has written, in under 200 pages, one of the most all-encompassing novellas I've ever read. Fever Dream indeed, we are led on a frantically unravelling story, grappling with the narrator and our own understanding of what is happening. From her hospital bed, Amanda is seeking to understand what has happened to her, and more importantly, what has happened to her young daughter. Encouraged and sped along by a mysterious young boy, David, who seems to know much more than he is willing to divulge, Schweblin creates a dialogue that had me sweating.
Nothing is packaged up tidily here, and you'll need to go and do some further reading of Schweblin's own country to draw some shakey conclusions, but part of me feels like that may have been a slight purpose of this book.
Schweblin blends together traditional aspects of her culture, with modernisation, female identity within motherhood, and the responsibility (sometimes futility) of what it means to be a mother and the lengths one might go to, to keep your child safe.
I loved this book. I'm quite certain it's one that will keep coming back to haunt me.
The Introverted Book Club is a monthly bookish meet-up, where we discuss a good book over coffee. Our book choices focus on themes of psychology, emotional health, and writers from non-western backgrounds.