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Mouthful of Birds

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  9,551 ratings  ·  1,556 reviews
A powerful, eerily unsettling story collection from a major international literary star.

Unearthly and unexpected, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don't let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary, masterful collection.

Schweblin's stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in t
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Riverhead Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  9,551 ratings  ·  1,556 reviews

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Sep 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Some of this collection felt a bit underdeveloped, but I'd honestly recommend checking it out solely for the first four stories because they are straight fire. ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are a literary collection of short stories by Samanta Schweblin translated from the Spanish. They are rather dark fare, infused with horror, stepping onto the territory of the strange, fantastical, the unexpected and even the supernatural with a strong sense of foreboding. As might be expected by such a large number of stories, from the slight to some that have more substance, they prove to be a mixed bag. To my disappointment the style and approach of storytelling fails to vary. So we hav ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unsettling, disturbing set of short stories. Schweblin creates relatable characters with effortless brushes of words only to destroy them by pushing them beyond the borders of humanity. The characters become eeire, inhuman, making some of these stories stink with psychological horror.

Schweblin is a bit of a literary Salvador Dali- taking people and events, bestowing them new forms and dimensions.

I found these stories so refreshing, puzzling and mesmerising. They made my mind work, made me shi
Hannah Greendale
This is a bumpy collection of short stories. Many of them feel unfinished or inconsequential. The most enjoyable are the ones with an element of horror, where there's something decidedly off about the characters and the final lines leave one shuddering and discomfited.

Specifically: "Headlights," "Preserves," "Butterflies," "The Test," "Heads Against Concrete," and, to a lesser extent, "Mouthful of Birds" and "On the Steppe."
With her back to us, standing on her tiptoes, she opened the cage an
lark benobi
The first four stories were creepy masterpieces. The rest felt like sketches where Schweblin explores themes that will no doubt be the core of her work as a writer, and that recall the everyday dread of Fever Dream: the weirdness of family; the impossibility of knowing even those you know best; the way everyday routine can decay unexpectedly into chaos and terror. In real life it’s an accident or unexpected illness; in these stories it’s learning your daughter is eating live birds or that the bu ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really admire Schweblin's boldness—she writes stories that are unsettling and just slightly off, akin to Ottessa Moshfegh, though the latter's are generally a bit more grotesque or filthy. Major props to Megan McDowell for a seamless translation as well. Though I preferred some stories over others (as with any collection), there really were no stories I disliked. I appreciated that she never overwrites; all the stories are between 5-20 pages, give or take a few. Though some tend to be more on ...more
Paul Fulcher
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book 3/13 for me from the Man Booker International 2019 longlist

Samanta Schweblin's 2014 first novel Distancia de rescate, when translated into English as Fever Dream by the wonderful Megan McDowell, was one of my books of 2017, and my pick of the Man Booker International longlist. Powerful, unsettling, gripping, a book that genuinely disturbed my dreams. My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Translated again by McDowell, Mouthful of Birds: Stories was, per the copyright page 'origi
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5, rounded up.

I was not a huge fan of Schweblin's first work to be translated into English, Fever Dream, but found it interesting enough to want to see what this second volume held. And although (standard disclaimer), I am also not a huge fan of short stories, most of these 'worked' for me, and none of the 20 contained herein are absolute duds (although I could have done without the animal abuse in 'The Test' :-( ) . Most of them are surreally creepy, kind of a hodgepodge of Poe and Kafka, and
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I liked the taut, evocative writing and the gorgeous cover, the stories themselves often felt empty to me. These stories are absurd and sometimes horrific, but horror and absurdity alone are not enough for me. There are some really great stories here, but not enough to make up for the more so-so ones.
A solid collection of eerie, horror-inflected stories, some very short, only a couple of pages. There’s a Twilight Zone or even Edgar Allan Poe kind of vibe to each of them, but very much updated for modern times.

These stories are nowhere near as trippy and confounding as Schweblin’s novella, Fever Dream, which could be a plus or a minus depending on how you felt about that book. For me, it’s very much a plus. I enjoyed Fever Dream well enough, but I remember thinking it would work better as a
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first story reads like Borges meets Carter, but none of the others matches it for atmosphere or creepy coherence. After the first three or so the level drops a fair bit, and but for the occasional moment thereafter (and a couple of stories simply didn’t work at all for me), like Fever Dream, it’s accomplished and very readable but good rather than great.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Samanta Schweblin currently has three works of hers that are translated into English. Her first was Fever Dreams, a novel which was shortlisted of the Man International Booker Prize of 2017. It was fabulously good, and not just in my opinion… This is a collection of short stories, and it is fabulously good (at least by my reckoning 😊 )! Longlisted for the Man International Booker Prize of 2019. It was “originally published in Spanish and in somewhat different form” titled Pajaros en la boca (Ran ...more
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
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Like most collections of short stories Mouthful of Birds has some stories that are hits and ones that are misses. I think the collection definitely showacases Samanta Schweblin's creativity and versatility. While most of the stories are permeated by the surreal they differ in tone and subject.

Schweblin makes the familiar feel unfamiliar. Many of the stories examine recognisable scenarios from an unexpected angle and it often takes a little time to catch up to wha
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars really.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man Booker International Longlist 2019. Argentinian author Schweblin impressed critics with Fever Dream in 2017; with the result that they clamored for more of her works to be translated from Spanish. This collection of twenty short stories, originally published in 2008, reflects her surrealistic tendencies and dark nature [think David Lynch]. Her excellent writing takes a seemingly mundane situation and transforms it into something extraordinary—or even just plain weird. In ‘Butterflies’ a fath ...more
Nov 09, 2018 marked it as dnf-arcs
Shelves: 2019-release
I read six and a half stories from this collection of 20. I was unimpressed enough by those to feel fine about abandoning it. There's a common theme of high-concept stories that are nothing more – they introduce something weird or horrifying, and that's pretty much it. 'Butterflies' is particularly terrible; it reads like the first thing a beginner might come up with at a creative writing workshop. A few of the others, particularly the title story, have better development, but still don't feel l ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pub-2009
I read all of these stories first in Spanish and then again in English, worried that my Spanish might be too rusty (worth noting – neither of these languages is my native language, so words still go through some parsing process before they hit my brain).

This book did make me question my level of Spanish, because Schweblin hides the bizarre among the mundane in a very matter of fact way, that makes the reader go ‘wait, what?’. The consequent English reading proved that I was understanding everyt
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, 2019-mbi
I read Samanta Schweblin’s book Fever Dream when it was listed for the Man Booker International in 2017. It was a stand out book because it was so beautifully creepy and very unsettling. It meant that I approached this book slightly nervously: was this going to lead to another couple of disturbed nights’ sleep with weird dreams.

Unfortunately, it turns out I didn’t really need to worry. There are some strange stories here, but nothing with the creep-factor of Fever Dream.

We start (Headlights) wit
[3.5] Reasonable collection of unsettling stories, with a handful of interesting pieces, but not amazing.

I've not read Fever Dream, but have been thinking about possible comparisons with other Latin American-Spanish authors, such as classic Mexican literary-horror writer Amparo Davila, whom I first heard of through the hommage The Iliac Crest, and recently I read one short story by Horacio Quiroga. Perhaps someone who has read more of these authors can comment how much Schweblin owes to them (a
Samanta Schweblin has almost become a household name. Her novella Fever Dreams has been one of the most talked about books in translation in recent years. It won so many awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award (2017), The Tournament of Books (2018), it made the Man Booker International Prize shortlist (2017) and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist (2017). Needless to say, when it was announced Mouthful of Birds was getting an English translation there was plenty of buzz surro ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
mouthful of birds (pájaros en la boca) comprises twenty stories from samanta schweblin's 2009 collection (which, in the original spanish, featured eighteen). schweblin, author of last year's haunting and unforgettable novel, fever dream , is among the distinguished company celebrated on the 2017 bogotá39 list of promising young spanish-language writers (ten years later, its 2007 forebear is a veritable who's who of latin american authors). born in argentina, but residing in germany, schweblin ...more
Eric Anderson
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many people, I was fascinated by the surreal atmosphere and ambiguous meaning of Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin's novel “Fever Dream” when it first appeared in English a couple of years ago. Now a collection of her short fiction has just been published and it's of a similar sinister vibe with odd twists of logic that often veer into near nightmares. Here are stories of children that transform into butterflies, businessmen who are turned into farm hands, a dissatisfied wife who meets a ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Most of these short stories have a sort of nightmarish qualities about them, much like another Intentional Booker nominee from author, Fever Dreams (but 'Fever Dreams' had a far better execution IMO and, to be honest, should have won International Booker that year). Sometimes the nightmarish quality is due to environment or because of the perspective of a child narrator while others really have a somewhat Kafka-like dream-realism (unpredictable sequence of surreal events) with an which is the th ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this because I’d just read Fever Dream (twice) and it was immediately available and I love short stories. But I ended up speed-reading the collection, because it felt like unnecessary reading, at least for me. They’re unsettling stories, but they didn’t unsettle me (or consume me) as Fever Dream did. ...more
Matt Quann
In a year full of mean old surprises, Mouthful of Birds stands out as the best short story collection I've read all year. I'd previously enjoyed Samanta Schewblin's disorienting, moody, and strange Fever Dream , but this collection was really a proper dive into Schweblin's twisted vision. Over the course of twenty 3-20 page stories-- most at the shorter end of that range--I was totally enthralled from captivating opening lines to bizarre endings.

For those of you in search of horror that isn'
Claire Reads Books
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 ⭐️ This was a mostly disappointing collection of tightly-packed short stories that showcase Samanta Schweblin’s fascination with the uncanny and her facility for crafting striking images and spinning twisted premises meant to send a chill down the reader’s spine. But unfortunately, none of the stories here have the depth or the development or the richness (either in characters or themes) to amount to anything as substantial or unshakable as Fever Dream. The offerings in this collection may b ...more
Zuky the BookBum
I was really looking forward to this short story collection, thinking I’d be reading a great selection of unsettling, disturbing, or even scary stories. However, it was mostly not as expected.

The collection starts off with an interesting yet unfinished feeling short called ‘Headlights’. Not a great start, but I was still encouraged and hopeful for the stories to come. Unfortunately, many of the following shorts, such as ‘My Brother Walter’ or ‘The Size of Things’ left me feeling depressed and me
A new favourite author? Could that be a thing, having only read two of her books? Last year, Fever Dream found its place in my Top 10 novels I’d read, being just my kind of surreal, experimental fiction, and one I still think about even today.

There are twenty short stories tightly packed in this collection, varying in length from a few pages, like “Butterflies,” to longer ones, such as “The Heavy Suitcase of Benavides.” I know this might be a problem for other readers, but to me, a short sto
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I’m not good at reading short story collections but this one is an exception. There are 20 stories in total here, and there are maybe three or four that just left me going ???? after reading the last word, but even those make me think and feel a sense of wonder, i can’t really explain the feeling. Every story is strange, quite bizarre, surreal, and eerie, some more disturbingly so than others. The surreal blends with the mundane everyday to tell metaphorical stories about reality, to offer a new ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[4.5] First, a confession: I have not read Samanta Schweblin’s Man Booker International shortlisted and Tournament of Books winner Fever Dream. I have not read the book, not even though I had the privilege to hear Schweblin speak at a local literary event last summer. She was wonderful, and rather surprisingly I can still recall bits and pieces of the discussion. For one, she talked about the ways that each reader constructs different mental images of a sentence as simple as, say, “there were sh ...more
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Into the Forest: Mouthful of Birds 54 32 Jul 11, 2019 05:48PM  
Literary Horror: May 2019 LH Monthly Short Story Read: Mouthful of Birds 23 69 Jun 12, 2019 03:41AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2019 MBI Longlist: Mouthful of Birds 22 64 Apr 08, 2019 02:42PM  

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Samanta Schweblin was chosen as one of the 22 best writers in Spanish under the age of 35 by Granta. She is the author of three story collections that have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize, and been translated into 20 languages. Fever Dream is her first novel and is longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Originally from Buenos Aires, she lives in Be ...more

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“El mundo lo que tiene es una gran crisis de amor, y de que, al fin y al cabo, no son buenos tiempos para la gente muy sensible.” 12 likes
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