Fever dream: Samanta Schweblin


I still do not know why I chose this book to read on a sleepless night, when I was struggling hard to cope with jet lag induced by recent transatlantic travel. When I reached page 5, I realised that it was a wrong decision to choose this book when I was all alone, fighting insomnia. But I felt like I was trapped into this book or rather I was jinxed. The book was so compelling that it was hard for me to put it down, but at the same time, it was so real, weird, creepy and scary that I was hesitant to continue reading it.

May be it could be the similarity in the topography that this book reminded me of Marquez, Borges and Rulfo, all at the same time. This is the first novel written by Samanta Schweblin, from Argentina, in Spanish and translated to English by Megan McDowell. Set in a rural village in Argentina, this novel is a conversation between Amanda and David about their experiences till that particular moment. The narration disregards the concept of time and space and is intricate enough to trap you in its web. As a medical professional, I felt this book could be about pesticide (organophosphorus)poisoning because all the symptoms described, including high fever, disorientation, inability too see clearly etc , experienced by the characters, could be explained by that.

Some books are like psychedelic drugs; they provide vivid experiences and prevent you from writing about them for fear of losing the intensity of that experience. This book is one of that kind which made me fall into a slumber with Amanda, where I was living my own dream of painting a van with Amanda, David, Nina and Carla amidst the soya plants and a well. Only when I woke up the next morning, did I realise that the picture I painted was unreal but the book I read about Amanda was real.

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