Seven Empty Houses
Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell
* An Oprah Daily Book of 2022 *
A blazing new story collection that will make you feel like the house is collapsing in on you, from the three-time International Booker Prize finalist, ‘lead[ing] a vanguard of Latin American writers forging their own 21st-century canon.’ -O, the Oprah magazine
The world of Samanta Schweblin’s short stories is dark and destabilising. Here, home is not a place of safety but the site of hidden danger, silent menace, unspoken resentment. Picture-perfect doors and spotless windows conceal lives in disarray, slowly unraveling in the face of obsession and fear, jealousy and desire.
Unsettling, exhilarating and fiercely original, these prizewinning stories expose raw and uncomfortable truths about the people and places we think will keep us safe, and ask what happens when that promise proves empty.
‘Darker and more tinged with terror than her breakthrough novel, Fever Dream, this is Schweblin at her sharpest and most ferocious.’ New York Times Book Review
'Both noirish and sinister, with violence broiling beneath the calm... Schweblin, at her best, has a knack for eeriness.' -- Sunday Telegraph '[Schweblin's] particular genius lies in the fact that there's something inherently savage and ungovernable about her work.' -- Financial Times 'The Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin loves Franz Kafka and Elizabeth Strout. It's hard to conceive of two more different writers. But imagine a fusion between their styles - dreamlike surrealism and taut domestic drama - and you'll have some idea of Schweblin's uniquely weird storyscapes... What does it mean to inhabit a house, or a body, and what do those spaces become when we're no longer fully there? Haunting, elemental questions that run right through this bold writer's eerie, mysterious oeuvre.' -- The Sunday Times 'A quiet, off-centre gem. The houses in question all - naturally - serve as foils for the delicate psychology of those who live in or pass through them, the objects inside them equally freighted with emotion. Disquieting and dark it may be, but it is lifted with sly humour and sharp observation, related in clear, plain-speaking prose that leaves lots for the reader to fill between the lines.' -- Marie Claire 'Schweblin seems capable above all else of helping us reconsider what stories can be while always making them feel tense, uncomfortable, exhilarating.' -- Los Angeles Times 'Haunted houses are a well-worn trope but this new collection of short stories by Samanta Schweblin takes the idea in surprising new directions... Schweblin's characters lose themselves in webs of greed, loss and violence, and their unsettling tales remind us that we are all shaped by the physical spaces that we inhabit and come from.' -- Monocle 'Rejoice! Just when we're settling into fall, all cozy on the couch with a Netflix show queued up, a new short story collection from Samanta Schweblin is here to spit in your pumpkin spiced latte and drag its nails down the wall. Seven Empty Houses... takes aim at the place we feel safest: home. Darker and more tinged with terror than her breakthrough novel, Fever Dream, this is Schweblin at her sharpest and most ferocious.' -- New York Times Book Review 'Samanta Schweblin writes at the very end of the possible. Her stories are mesmerising, exquisitely crafted and deeply unsettling. Each sentence is as precise and invasive as an expertly wielded scalpel.' -- Jan Carson, author of The Raptures 'Starting a story by the Argentinian Samanta Schweblin is like tumbling into a dark hole with no idea where you'll end up.' -- Chris Power, The Sunday Times 'These seven eerie, uneasy stories seem peculiarly pertinent to the present post-pandemic financial crisis mood of uncertainty... the stories may be spare and pared back, but their cumulative effect is a heightened sense of fear and a disrupted sense of safety.' -- Daily Mail 'Schweblin is one of a generation of South American female writers whose willingness to experiment with language, content and form has made them some of the most interesting and necessarily provocative voices in literature today... Conveyed to English-language readers in the seamlessly poetical renditions of the author's regular translator Megan McDowell, these curiously addictive, tightly wound stories are as compelling as they are alienating. Schweblin's tendency to understatement, forever flirting with entropic decline yet never entirely capitulating to it, makes her latest work an original and provoking contribution to the literature of unease.' -- Guardian 'Seven Empty Houses sneaks dread like a cursed gift through its pages. In Megan McDowell's translation from the original Spanish, Schweblin's prose is pared to a fine edge... The collection's power is in its capacity to speak to the danger that is waiting, if you would only peer in through the keyhole.' -- Big Issue 'The proximity to Halloween is appropriate, given Schweblin's idiosyncratic mode of tense and unsettling literary horror. As in Fever Dream and Little Eyes...something is always creeping around these empty houses.' -- The Millions 'Schweblin's newest collection may be her most unsettling... Spectacular and strange... The most disquieting realization of all is perhaps the fact that any of these scenarios could arrive at any moment.' -- Washington Post 'I find Samanta's writing to be simply superb. She keeps you gripped to her writing and turning the pages long after you should have returned to other tasks... This is an excellent collection of short stories looking at our ordinary domestic lives, and I will certainly be recommending this book to all who will listen.' * Independent Book Reviews * 'Ethereal... Seven compelling explorations of vacancy in another perfectly spare and atmospheric translation.' -- Kirkus 'Evocative.' -- Publishers Weekly 'Excellent.' -- Bookriot 'Uniquely satisfying.' -- LitHub 'Perfect reading for the month of the dead.' -- The Gloss 'While Seven Empty Houses is less fantastical than Schweblin's previous collection, Mouthful of Birds, the unease of the uncanny persists.' -- The Spectator 'The Argentinian author of Fever Dream deftly manipulates expectations in stories of secrets and buried resentments... Part of the pleasure of Schweblin's fictions is how she subverts expectations... Her fractured worlds make compelling reading.' -- Observer 'There are seven strange tales here with vivid characters and writing as smooth as butter... An original and unique collection.' -- Breakingnews.ie 'Unsettling and disturbing.' -- Bookmunch 'Ominous and exhilarating.' -- Jewish News 'Savage and surreal, the inhabitants of these fictions are on a journey deep into the self - but what they discover is not what they, or the reader might expect... Schweblin's narrators are gloriously unreliable; her stories have the scope of cinema.' -- The Irish Times 'The sinuous, sinister tales that make up Seven Empty Houses are set in the intimate sphere, precisely where we might expect to feel most protected. But the houses of the title are not homes, and some of them do not even belong to their occupants... Marvellously apprehensive.' -- TLS 'Seven Empty Houses reaches into the domestic with ease and pulls out the opposite: stories poised to unnerve and unsettle the reader and shock them out of the familiar... Subtle, effortlessly constructed tales of dislocation, intrusion, and crisis. They feature exquisitely crafted sentences but also plots perfected to catch the reader unawares.' -- Sydney Morning Herald
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