“Bunny” is their communal pet-name. They move as one – a lemon-scented, cupcake-devouring Lovecraftian hivemind - four affluent young women at the prestigious New England college aptly named “Warren University.” They groom each-other’s hair, nuzzle one another’s faces in full view of the public. “Bunny, I love you,” one of them simpers, to which another replies, “I love you, Bunny.” They sit together in their writing workshops, snuggled up together on one side of a table, holding hands, petting each-other.
On the other side of that table sits the only other student, our narrator Samantha. Attending Warren on a scholarship, she is excluded from this intriguing dynamic until an invitation appears in her school mailbox inviting her to an erotic writing workshop with the Bunnies. From here onwards, she descends into their world of miniature food, colourful cocktails, beheadings, sugar, exploding rabbits, pills, and axes. And all the while, the Bunnies are fascinated with the artistic concept of The Body.
I read this in one sitting. With such a bizarre and enticing beginning, the novel runs the risk of losing momentum, but the plot developments kept me hooked. Samantha is influenced by those she associates with. In the company of her cynical best friend, Samantha calls the Bunnies ironic nicknames – Creepy Doll, Duchess, Vignette and Cupcake. Yet as she falls in with this group, the Bunnies become indistinguishable from one another, “I” becomes “we,” “me” becomes “us,” and all of them are “Bunny.”
For those who enjoy the dark humour and satire of Ottessa Moshfegh’s unhinged My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Awad’s novel is sure to please. I cannot, in good conscience spoil this plot for you. It benefits from being explored blindly. The saccharine title and premise conceal an ugly, gutsy satire of privilege, high art and friendship.