In her work, Argentine author Samanta Schweblin is interested in exploring the sense of eeriness that accompanied her childhood. Samanta was born in Buenos Aires in 1978, a couple of years after the start of a violent dictatorship. But, while violence surrounded her growing up, there was also art: her grandfather was a famous artist who began to train her as a writer when she was around six years old. They would take trips, steal books, ride the train without tickets and go to plays and museums—all in the name of her artistic training.

Read the episode transcript here.

It worked. Samanta’s books have been translated into 25 languages. And both the English translation of her short-story collection “A Mouthful of Birds” and her novel “Fever Dream,” were long-listed for the International Booker Prize. The novel —a psychological thriller about a mother who is dying and a young boy who has information about what is killing her— was also adapted to film in 2021.

For Samanta, writing is a way of being in the world. Now living in Berlin, she’s constantly reminded that “a writer is always a kind of foreigner. Wherever he’s moving and whatever he’s writing about, his main exercise is to behave as a foreigner. Because, the moment that you’re convinced that you’re not completely understanding what’s going on, then you have a more objective perspective of what is going on,” says Samanta.

The unexplainable events in her books don’t quite cross into fantasy or horror, but instead they reveal the uncanny of everyday life. “When people talk about my work, they usually say, ‘Oh, these stories are so full of monsters’. But, where are the monsters? Because this is not a horror story, it’s just the feeling of ‘This is a horror story.’ There’s no monsters, but they’re there. Where are these monsters? Are they in the reader’s mind?” Samanta tells Latino USA.

In this episode, Samanta shares how she started writing and the origins of her fascination with the blurry lines between what’s normal and what’s strange.

Featured image by Suhrkamp Verlag.

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