Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mouthful of Birds” as Want to Read:
Mouthful of Birds
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mouthful of Birds

by
3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,004 ratings  ·  1,038 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
...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Riverhead Books (first published 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mouthful of Birds, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mouthful of Birds

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,004 ratings  ·  1,038 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Mouthful of Birds
Amalia Gavea
‘’Calderón, on the other hand, stands motionless. He can’t bring himself to lift his foot from the one he has killed. He is, perhaps, afraid of recognizing his girl’s colours on the dead wings.’’

Twenty stories full of darkness. Deep, impenetrable, untraceable, lingering in our souls. Stories told in a strange place between reality and a world we meet in our dreams. Or are they actually hallucinations that reveal our true colours? In Schweblin's collection, the boundaries between human relati
...more
Paromjit
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
...more
Hannah Greendale
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, short-stories
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
...more
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
Maxwell
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
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
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.
Doug
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
...more
Marchpane
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
...more
Lee
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.
Kathleen
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
Simon
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars really.
JimZ
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
Neil
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
...more
Antonomasia
[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
...more
Michael
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
Kinga
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
...more
jeremy
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
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
Blair
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
Teresa
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
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
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
...more
Ana
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Tommi
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
Xueting
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
Michelle
4.5 stars rounded up
52 Weeks of Women of Color

I fell under Schweblin's spell when I read Fever Dream for the Tournament of Books. I remember being haunted by her prose. This story collection has that same eery quality. Although Schweblin uses magical realism in her stories there's something about the way she conveys her message that makes her plots ring frighteningly true. My favorites from this collection include tales about deserted women who grasp a chance at freedom, children who are transfo
...more
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
Lauren
Schweblin can set a mood and tone in a few short pages!

My standouts in this short story collection:
- Preserves
- Mouthful of Birds
- Heads on Concrete
- On the Steppe
- Heavy Suitcase of Benavides
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Into the Forest: Mouthful of Birds 54 23 Jul 11, 2019 05:48PM  
Literary Horror: May 2019 LH Monthly Short Story Read: Mouthful of Birds 25 67 Jun 12, 2019 03:41AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2019 MBI Longlist: Mouthful of Birds 22 61 Apr 08, 2019 02:42PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Los peligros de fumar en la cama
  • Things We Lost in the Fire
  • Nuestra parte de noche
  • Eartheater
  • The Adventures of China Iron
  • Las malas
  • Éste es el mar
  • Temporada de huracanes
  • Grožio ir blogio biblioteka
  • Los lugares equivocados
  • The Knife Thrower and Other Stories
  • El viento que arrasa
  • Baño de damas
  • Optic Nerve
  • Ghost Wall
  • Las primas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies #43
See similar books…
1,425 followers
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

Articles featuring this book

Diverse voices and sparkling debuts dominate today's contemporary short story collections. For this roundup, we took a look at the...
85 likes · 9 comments
“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.” 9 likes
“Yo no era violento, quiero aclarar esto. Solo hablaba si era estrictamente necesario, no tenía amigos pero tampoco enemigos, y lo único que hacía en los recreos era esperar sólo en el silo, lejos del ruido del patio, hasta que la clase volviera a empezar. Esperaba dibujando. Eso apuraba el tiempo y me apartaba del mundo. [...] Yo seguía dibujando, y nadie tocaba mis dibujos porque sabían que yo creía en el bien y en el mal, y me molesta todo lo relacionado con lo segundo.” 2 likes
More quotes…