Guest Post by Kevin Brown
Tess Gunty’s debut novel, The Rabbit Hutch, is so weird and wild, with characters that can strike readers as so unlikable, I’m worried people won’t stick with it, which they definitely should, if for no other reason than her astonishing comparisons. Gunty’s title refers to a public housing unit where several of the main characters live, but it also refers to people whom society has put in a small cage, specifically people society has damaged in some way. For example, Blandine (originally Tiffany) has grown up in the foster care system and ends up living with three boys who have come up in similar circumstances, all of whom suffer from a lack of meaningful relationships. Moses and his mother—a woman who became famous as a child star on a TV sitcom—also have no real relationship, leaving Moses adrift as an adult, taking petty vengeance on those who hurt him. The novel sounds dark, and it is, overall, but not in a gratuitous manner. Instead, Gunty spends most of the book setting up the darkness—not just the characters’ immediate conditions, but also the realities of climate change and urban development—only to reveal a select few moments of light, just enough to remind readers of what is still good in the world and what can continue to be good, if only they work to make it so.
The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty. Knopf, August 2022.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.