‘Birds in the Mouth’ by Samantha Schweblin, translated by Joel Streiker for PEN America

Samantha Schweblin has been one of my favorite short story writers for years, so it’s been thrilling to see her gain so much international notoriety recently, with her Man Booker International Prize-nominated novel, Fever Dream. I highly encourage you to seek out her translated short fiction, available online in places like the New YorkerGranta, and Words Without Borders. Her themes include children, adulthood, fertility, consumerism, and environmental illnesses. I had to go with ‘Birds in the Mouth’ as my favorite, due to its relentless exploration of a young’s girl’s appetite (is there anything scarier to society than a young girl who knows exactly what she wants, and unceasingly pursues it?), and its central question: “what it would feel like to swallow something warm and moving, to have something full of feathers and feet in your mouth.”

Available to read online here. First published in Pájaros en la boca y otros cuentos. Editorial Lumen, 2010