cover image Fever Dream

Fever Dream

Samanta Schweblin, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. Riverhead, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-399-18459-8

In her pulsating debut, Schweblin tells the story of Amanda, a young mother dying in a hospital, who talks to a neighborhood boy, David, as he sits by her bedside. David has Amanda recount the events leading up to her sudden illness—in search of, as he says, “the worms” that caused her ailment—and the result is a swirling narrative packed with dream logic and bizarre coincidences, where souls shift from sick bodies to healthy hosts and poisonous toxins seep under the skin upon contact with the grass. As Amanda and her daughter, Nina, try to settle in at their vacation home away from the city, they become entangled with Carla, David’s mother, who appears at random intervals and spins wild tales of her son. After a frightening encounter with David, Amanda throws Carla and the boy out of her home, yet before long, the trio of women are reunited, and from her future hospital bed, a semilucid Amanda tries to remember how this meeting resulted in her death spiral. Powered by an unreliable narrator—is Amanda imagining David by her side?—Schweblin guides her reader through a nightmare scenario with amazing skill. (Jan.)