Sarah Coolidge at The Quarterly Conversation:
Through short stories, Schweblin established herself as a writer of the strange and eerie. While Granta featured her in its list of “The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists” alongside Carlos Labbé, Alejandro Zambra, Andrés Neuman, and Carlos Yoshimito, her style is more closely attuned to that of Edgar Allan Poe, or perhaps more close to home, Julio Cortázar. Like them she is fascinated by the oftentimes disturbing and inexplicable forces at work in the world. In the titular story of Pájaros en la boca, parents discover, and proceed to agonize over, their daughter’s inexplicable urge to eat her pet birds—which she thrusts whole into her mouth and chews bloodily.
At the core of many of Schweblin’s stories is a morbid, hysterical portrayal of motherhood. In one, a couple struggling with fertility spends the night “hunting” some unnamed entity, and Schweblin’s refusal to give the thing a name, paired with the couple’s desperation, produces an unsettling aura. In another story a pregnant woman dreading her nearing delivery date goes to see a doctor who prescribes her pills that, month by month, reverse her pregnancy as her family looks on horrified.
Schweblin’s stories demonstrate her ability to make the reader feel viscerally manipulated, if not morally violated. And yet, while their brevity may at times intensify their effect, there is something fleeting about them. They disturb and manipulate the reader but they don’t haunt or linger in the mind like a nightmare.