Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Translated by Megan McDowell) - review by Anthony Cummins

Anthony Cummins

Poison Pen

Fever Dream

By

Oneworld 151pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

In the mid-1990s, when Samanta Schweblin was a teenager in Buenos Aires, reading (by her own account) Ray Bradbury and J G Ballard, the agrochemical firm Monsanto sowed the first genetically modified soya bean crops in Argentina. Now central to the country’s economy, soya is sprayed with controversial pesticides held responsible for a rise in cancers, miscarriages and birth defects. Schweblin, now resident in Berlin, has said that Fever Dream, the first of her books to appear in English, ‘deals with the agro-toxic issue, a big, dangerous new problem for [Argentina’s] health’, but it’s weirder than that description might lead you to expect; what the novel offers is less whistleblowing polemic, more strobe-lit nightmare.

It unfolds as a deathbed dialogue between Amanda, a mother taken ill while on holiday from ‘the capital’, and David, the ten-year-old son of her neighbour at the house she’s rented in ‘the country’. He nags her to recall the details of a conversation in which his mother

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

East of the Wardrobe

Follow Literary Review on Twitter