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Booker International Longlist 2020: Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin


Book 12 – This was the one the panellist were most excited about however due to publication dates, finances and Coronavirus only Bookworm has managed to read this so far. So did it live up to expectations?

Details from the Booker Website: They’ve infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of Sierra Leone, town squares of Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana.
They’re not pets, nor ghosts, nor robots. They’re real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without you knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, untraceable.
The characters in Samanta Schweblin’s wildly imaginative new novel, Little Eyes, reveal the beauty of connection between far-flung souls – but they also expose the ugly truth of our increasingly linked world. Trusting strangers can lead to unexpected love, playful encounters and marvellous adventures, but what if it can also pave the way for unimaginable terror? Schweblin has created a dark and complex world that is both familiar but also strangely unsettling, because it’s our present and we’re living it – we just don’t know it yet.

Samanta Schweblin is the author of three story collections that have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize, and most recently, a Man Booker International Prize longlisting for Mouthful of Birds (Oneworld, 2019). Her debut novel Fever Dream was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017. Originally from Buenos Aires, she lives in Berlin.

Megan McDowell has translated books by many contemporary South American and Spanish authors, and her translations have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s and The Paris Review. She lives in Chile.

Bookworm’s Thoughts: This is my favourite cover from the whole longlist, honestly who could resist a cute little panda?

This book is very different from Fever Dream but in its own unique way it is just as good. I love the way Schweblin holds a mirror up to the modern world and questions our obsessions with new technology, she also examines the different types of people who exist. On a broad level we have the “dwellers” and the “keepers” she then breaks this down further by showing us the kind of people who choose each category both the good and the bad.

This is not a plot driven book it is more a character examination that explores how people interact with their technology and how that interaction changes them and how they see themselves and others.

I love the idea of the “Kentukis” and can totally see how the craze would sweep the world, that said I personally wouldn’t want one in my life, and now I am slightly scared that my fitness tracker knows more than I want it to about my life.

Writing: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 4/4
Plot: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 17/20

Tyll 19/20
The Eighth Life 18.5
Little Eyes 17
Memory Police 15.5
Faces on the Tip of my Tongue 14.17
Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree 14
Mac and his Problem 12.5
The Other Name Septology 11.33
The Discomfort of Evening 11
The Adventures of China Iron 10.5
Hurricane Season 9.75
Serotonin 8.375

Have your read this one? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments

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