Little Eyes

Samanta Schweblin. Riverhead, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-54136-3
Schweblin (Fever Dream) unfurls an eerie, uncanny story of Furby-like robots that roll around and make animal sounds, connecting people throughout the world in unsettling ways. The dolls, called kentuki, are equipped with cameras and separate controllers, and their ownership is split between “keepers” and “dwellers.” The keeper purchases a doll, while the dweller buys its controller and watches through the kentuki’s camera via the internet. Schweblin catapults through a dizzying array of vignettes. Marvin, a boy in Antigua, secretly buys a kentuki “dweller” controller using his mother’s savings. In South Bend, Ind., Robin and two of her friends conduct cam shows with their kentuki before the dweller begins spelling out increasingly alarming and sexual demands on the girls’ Ouija board. Emilia, a lonely woman in Lima, quickly takes on the dweller role with Eva, a woman in Germany, who buys dog toys and other pet distractions for Emilia to play with via the kentuki. Daring, bold, and devious, the idea fascinates despite the underdeveloped narrative, and the disparate vignettes fail to build toward a satisfying conclusion. Schweblin’s take on the erosion of privacy and new forms of digital connection yields an ingenious concept, but the sum is less than its parts. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/03/2020
Release date: 05/05/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-525-54138-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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