BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell [in Booklist]

Each member of this fabulous cast is identified twice – with every story title and at audiobook’s end – in a rare (but super easy-to-do!) instance of responsible recognition. Literary darling Samanta Schweblin’s 2015 collection, fluidly translated by favored Megan McDowell, features seven unsettling stories about seven physically, emotionally, and literally empty houses, performed by seven narrators who deftly embody disturbing unease.

Elena Rey chillingly portrays a daughter whose mother likes to “go out and look at other people’s houses.” Lee Osorio’s raised eyebrows are practically visible as he decides not to reveal his naked parents and children in the picture window. Gisela Chípe crisply gives voice to next-door neighbors fighting over a dead boy’s clothes.

Yareli Arizmendi gets the most airtime, ciphering an aging woman rapidly losing control of reality. Victoria Villarreal urgently seeks aspirin while her mother-in-law attempts to claim her two square feet. Daisy Guevara and Inés del Castillo both confront what could easily become tragedies: a girl without underwear led out of the hospital by a stranger and a young woman entering a car with an “escapist.”

Ominous but addictive, Schweblin again succeeds in pulling – yanking – in readers.

Review“Media,” Booklist, December 1, 2022

Readers: Adult

Published: 2015 (Spain), 2022 (United States)


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