FICTION

Little Eyes

. Riverhead. May 2020. 256p. from Spanish by Megan McDowell. ISBN 9780525541363. $26. LITERARY.
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Battery-driven, camera-equipped stuffed animals with their own chargers, kentuki are not toys. From crow to bunny to mole, each is decidedly someone—some mysterious observer—with whom its so-called keeper builds a relationship. As they roll around asserting themselves from Lima to Umbertide to South Bend, kentuki unsettle the lives of the various characters whose stories are woven together here, from restless Alina, accompanying her artist boyfriend to Oaxaca on his first big grant, to the divorced Enzo, compelled by an overbearing psychologist to take on one of these creepy critters for the sake of his son, who hates the thing. As situations escalate, readers will be fascinated by the kentuki-human interactions, which smartly reveal how hungry we are for connection in a technology-bent world.
VERDICT Of a piece with Schweblin’s elliptical Fever Dream and the disturbing story collection A Mouthful of Birds, both runners-up for the Man Booker International Prize, this jittery eye-opener will appeal to a wide range of readers.

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