“Bunny” is the cloyingly sweet pet name shared by four young women in Samantha’s MFA program. They even look sweet. Samantha has her own names for the Bunnies: She calls one “Cupcake” because “she looks like a cupcake. Dresses like a cupcake. Gives off the scent of baked lemony sugar. Pretty in a way that reminds you of frosting flourishes. She looks so much like a cupcake that when I first met her at orientation, I had a very real desire to eat her.”
They are the worst kind of friend group: cliquish, self-obsessed, prim, moneyed, privileged. But when they invite tall, awkward Samantha to a “smut salon,” she is curious despite herself. What could these cardigan-clad ladies—whose idea of a helpful fiction critique is clasping hands while proclaiming, Can I just say I loved living in your lines and that’s where I want to live forever now?—possibly know about smut? When Samantha arrives at a Bunny’s apartment for the event, she finds herself in the middle of a fever dream of an evening, with drinks and visits from her past and more drinks. As Samantha gets drawn into their circle, she learns that sometimes sweet is just a cover for something much more sinister.
Mona Awad made her mark with her acclaimed debut novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, a striking, at times heartbreaking examination of how body image affects modern life. Bunny is an astonishingly self-assured next step, a surreal journey into the depths of a nightmare. Awad’s writing is somehow both gorgeous and gritty as she explores creativity, art and the universal desire to belong.