Mona Awad’s Bunny is cerebral, experimental, and on more than one occasion left me wondering “What in the world just happened?”
The novel follows Samantha Mackey (or Smackie as her best friend Ava affectionately calls her) as she trudges through the last few semesters of her MFA program at a prestigious New England university. Fraught with writer’s block and an iceberg of unresolved trauma, Samantha hazily moves to and from workshop day after day where the only other creative peers she interacts with are the Bunnies–a Heathers-esque, culty group of women who make up the other four seats in Samantha’s cohort.
The Bunnies–whom she distinguishes by nicknames Cupcake, Creepy Doll, Vignette, and The Duchess–invite Samantha to their private “Workshop,” which proves to be nothing short of a horrific brainstorming session come to life.
Awad pokes fun at the self-indulgent creative process that often is evoked from intense writing programs such as the one in the novel, programs with which she herself is intimately familiar. Much of Bunny reads like a fever-dream: As Samantha’s grip on reality weakens, so does her reliability as the protagonist and narrator. The fun of this novel is in the constant guessing game of what is real and what is figment of her dissociated imagination.
The overall plot of the novel would have been well served by a more purposeful exploration of Ava and her relationship with Samantha, as well as the hierarchy between the bunnies, which is apparent but never explained. While I was let down by some gaps in character development, the execution and overarching concept of Bunny is unique, engrossing, and wonderfully freaky.