Kentukis (Samanta Schweblin, 2018)

 
Cover of  Kentukis  by  Samanta Schweblin

Cover of Kentukis by Samanta Schweblin

Samanta Schweblin’s follow-up to her much-heralded Fever Dream feels like a lost episode of Black Mirror as both TV show and novel share their apprehension towards new technologies.  

The titular Kentukis are some kind of ePets where one user gets to be the owner and another one gets to be the pet. It might sound creepier than appealing, but it’s become a worldwide sensation. These new toys offer you the chance to become a rabbit in a Kazakh farm, a crow for a Mexican household or even a dragon for a bored housewife in Austria. Schweblin answers, through several stories that span the five continents, why people would let strangers observe their daily life and why some others are willing to follow unconditionally an individual they don’t know.

Kentukis is not only about the way social media affects society, but also about our relationship to pets and what we expect from them. We tend to anthropomorphise animals as well-informed creatures that would talk to us if they were able to speak, but Schweblin is not so sure we’d like our dogs, cats or turtles to behave, react and judge us as humans do.

Just like most of Black Mirror episodes, all the main characters in Kentukis meet an unfortunate ending making Schweblin’s analysis on the Internet disappointingly one-sided. There’s no denying the World Wide Web can be a dangerous place, but Kentukis could’ve given some positive examples to, at least, compensate the heavy-handedness of the whole novel. The Internet is not just the dark web. It has also given great things like… like… This blog, for example?

Among the many highlights of the novel is a devastating episode that takes place in a nursing home as well as the opening story which includes a very cruel extortion. With her latest novel, Schweblin confirms once again she’s the Literary Queen of the Disturbing.


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Kentukis

By Samanta Schweblin | 2018 | Random House | 224 pages