Focus on Fever Dream - Man Booker International Prize 2017

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The Man Booker International Prize celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. The prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is translated into English and published in the UK. Both novels and short-story collections are eligible, and the writer and translator are rewarded equally for their contribution.

The full shortlist of six titles can be found here, but in this series of articles we will look at each title in detail.

Fever Dream

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child.

The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.

Get involved

Have you read Fever Dream? Do you want to know what other readers thought? You can leave a review, read a review or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to know more? Download a Readers’ Guide for Fever Dream, including information about the author and translator, as well as some discussion notes and themed reading.

Want ideas on what to read next? We’ve created a supporting booklist with suggestions of other books that you might like to try if you enjoyed Fever Dream, including books with similar locations, writing styles or genres.

A word from Book and Brew

Book and Brew are one of the brilliant reading groups shadowing the prize this year, and have been reading Fever Dream.

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“The beauty of literary prizes is that they get you reading books you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself. That’s certainly the case with Book and Brew and our reading for the Man Booker International Prize.

Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin fits in with our literary fiction preferences but is not something we would have picked to read. But, we are so glad with got this book to shadow judge.

We all loved this book and rattled through its 150 pages with speed – Gail even read it twice.

It’s a unique premise that keeps you guessing throughout. The lines between reality and dream, truth and lies, consciousness and confusion are constantly blurred, giving a distorting effect that means you’re never quite sure of what’s going on.

The book will terrify you. Alison had to check her doors were locked at one point to continue reading in safety. The atmosphere is so tense there’s an almost tangible fear permeating the text through which you absorb Amanda’s dread.

Schweblin’s prose has been beautifully translated to retain the depth and nuances of the original. The translator deserves as much credit for the Man Booker nod as the author. The ephemeral fleetingness of the compact pages is balanced with rich suspense to create perfectly pitched prose. It echoes the traditions of magic realism honed in South America and is a book distinctly of its continent.

I can’t say we were fully certain of the outcome or circumstances of the events in the book. But we weren’t supposed to be.

The sense of confusion can be frustrating at times but is rewarded with a magnificent tapestry of threads from which you can draw your own conclusions. In fact, we debated quite a few of the plotlines and derived many and varied meanings from each of them.

Fever Dream scared us, confused us and shocked us and we loved it. It was definitely a hit with book club."


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