People around the world have become fixated on 'kentuki:' small, motorized stuffed animals that are powered by anonymous strangers. Neither the keeper, nor the dweller knows the other’s identity; they’re anonymous strangers from different lands. They’re not intended to communicate. And yet this doesn’t stop the keepers and dwellers from becoming invested in each other’s lives, or finding a way to reach out to each other. Longlisted for the 2020 Man Booker International Prize.
...[a] dark, quick, strangely joyful new novel ... I cannot describe the thrill that ran through me when I realized what the premise of this book was. Of course the idea is timely ... But what amazes me is how studiously Schweblin shuns this low-hanging fruit, pushing the book’s thematic content into the background and spotlighting instead the intensity and specificity of her characters’ inner lives. I cannot remember a book so efficient in establishing character and propelling narrative; there’s material for a hundred novels in these deft, rich 242 pages ... Each story unveils a new implication of the technology, new ways for human beings to love and hurt themselves and others ... The writing, ably translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, is superb...the sentences snap like a flag in a gale, especially when deployed to evoke small, vivid details ... a slim volume as expansive and ambitious as an epic.
... ingenious ... as [Schweblin] works through the implications of her premise in a nimble, fast-moving narrative, what’s most impressive is the way she foregrounds her characters’ inner hopes and fears ... has much to say about connection and empathy in a globalised world. On a personal level, its investigation into solitude and online experience becomes only more poignant in a global lockdown.
Samanta Schweblin is not a science fiction writer. Which is probably one of the reasons why Little Eyes...reads like such great science fiction ... [Schweblin] basically gives everyone in the world a Furby with a webcam, and then sits back, smiling, and watches humanity shake itself to pieces ... There's a finality to the relationship. A heavy reality, bounded by life and death at either end and the juicy, exciting, terrifying, horrible middle bit where two human beings connect via the lens of a felt-covered plastic mole with camera eyes ... If the idea of a human pet, of a Furby with a person inside, was a loose thread idly toyed with on page 1, then Schweblin spends the next 249 slowly pulling at it — expertly unraveling the humans on either end of the kentuki's virtual connection. You know from the start — from the very first all-too-plausible vignette set in a teenage girl's bedroom in Indiana — that everything will end in fire and blood and tears. You just know ... But still, you can't stop watching. Even when you want to — even when Schweblin shatters your trust and twists the knife as Little Eyes reaches its absolutely gutting, absolutely haunting conclusions — you just can't look away.