Book Review: ‘Bunny’ by Mona Awad

by Charlie Fabre

If The Secret History and Heathers had a love child, this would be it

Starting 2022, the Swim Press team will be giving you at least one book review a month based on the books we have been loving! You’ll get a glimpse of our tastes, and hopefully a few new titles to add to your TBR.

First up is Bunny by Mona Awad!

If The Secret History and Heathers had a love child, this would be it. Mona Awad’s novel is an absolute trip through a gauzy, pastel, girly world, lined with hidden guts and innards. It pulls you into this world of an elite MFA Creative Writing programme and then just as the hints that something is wrong start to hit you, it traps you in a snare and keeps you close for the whole wild ride. 

Bunny is the story of Samantha, a Creative Writing student at a very prestigious east coast grad-school. She has classes with a group of hyper-girly girls who she hates, and who refer to themselves as the Bunnies. Samantha is your typical outcast, but one day she’s invited to one of the Bunnies soirées and what she discovers there is so deliciously twisted and just impossible to part ways with…

“I turn to her. She’s looking at me so hopefully. So willing to take a coat I’m not wearing, I almost want to give her my skin.” – Mona Awad

So, a little about me, I’ve been on an ‘unhinged, angry, sexual, weird woman in literature’ kick lately; I’ve been devouring this kind of media like I’ve never eaten in my life. Bunny was one of the best meals I’ve had. I loved everything about it: the weirdness, the slipping of time and reality, the falseness of the Bunnies and their lives. It was just amazing.

The story is split into three parts, and nothing could have prepared for the end of the first one! It was unlike anything I had ever read, and the rest of the story after that was completely bewildering. I really can’t say more other than I loved it without risking any spoilers. 

“But I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t stopping. Because we were already running away again, me and my imagination.” – Mona Awad

It was weird and visceral, Mona Awad didn’t shy away from any gory details and she wields discomfort and confusion like a weapon. It’s been a few weeks since I finished this, and I still have no idea what was real and what wasn’t: what Samantha imagined and what actually happened, if any of it happened at all. And I think that’s one of my favourite parts, and kind of the point? Samantha isn’t the most reliable narrator, and I think she leans into her imagination a lot (her creative writing background supports this idea as well), so it’s entirely plausible that she made everything up and this is one of her self-indulgent pieces. Who knows? But I’ll never stop thinking about it.

“Behold the lavish tent under which the overeducated mingle, well versed in every art but the one of conversation.” – Mona Awad

Something I especially appreciated about Bunny was the subtle commentary on creative writing practices and appropriation. Awad touches upon the fact that upper class wealthy writers like to dramatise their prose by appropriating struggling working class narratives in order to appeal to those audiences when in reality this is something they’ve never experienced. 

There was also the constant questioning of ‘how far would you go in the name of art?’ which I found incredibly interesting, especially in an age where no content is fully original anymore. It’s the nature of art to never be fully original and always influenced by those before us and the world around us. More and more art is pushing boundaries to desperately be transgressive, but surely there’s a limit. Question is, where is it? Though it’s not explicitly asked, I think this is a prominent theme of Bunny and it was such an interesting thread to follow throughout.

“I look at all of my dreams and nightmares distilled into one man-shaped shape. All the love and hate I have in my heart plus one fucking bunny.” – Mona Awad

If you like unhinged women, cutesy monsters, dark academia, gore and confusion, you MUST read Bunny!

All I can say is, my experience as a creative writing student was certainly not the same.

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