‘Fiercely Original’ Tess Gunty’s The Rabbit Hutch Wins First Waterstones Fiction Prize | Books

The Rabbit Hutch, “fiercely original and innovative” by Tess Gunty, won the first Waterstones Prize for first fiction.

The Rabbit Hutch centers on the residents of an affordable housing complex in the fictional town of Vacca Vale, Indiana. Issues such as poverty, gentrification and an inadequate healthcare system are seen through the lens of Blandine, an “ethereal and formidably intelligent” young woman who is offered a chance to escape her surroundings.

Gunty, who will receive a cash prize of £5,000 and ‘the promise of continued commitment’ from Waterstones, grew up in South Bend, Indiana. Feeling that her hometown was underrepresented in fiction, she characterized her novel as an effort to “reclaim a place derided as ‘overflown country’, a place dismissed as simplistic and luckless, petty and pitiful, boring and ugly and out of place. about “. She said she wanted to “emphasize” that “these homes and their inhabitants are worthy of attention”.

Speaking to the Observer earlier this year, Gunty said: “One of the things that frustrates me is that politicians seem to treat the Midwest, especially the Rust Belt, as if it doesn’t. housed only one type of pain and rage voter who is easily exploited, and that voter is usually portrayed as a working-class white male who voted for Trump. The writer, who now lives in Los Angeles, added that “in fact, the Rust Belt is extremely diverse; it’s much more diverse than the average United States, and there are a lot of different ideologies there. It is a vast and mysterious place.

The Rabbit Hutch, published in the UK by independent press Oneworld, was selected as the winner by a panel of Waterstones booksellers from a shortlist of six first novels which also included Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, Trespasses by Louise Kennedy, How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, Wanderers! of Eloghosa Osunde and Memphis of Tara M Stringfellow.

Bea Carvalho, Head of Fiction at Waterstones, said the novel “truly has the feel of the next great American novel: it’s an exquisite, triumphant book that simultaneously recalls the best of contemporary canon, while remaining fiercely original. and innovative”. .

She went on to say, “Booksellers have been blown away by Gunty’s playfulness, boundless compassion and vast emotional intellect: it’s bold fiction that pushes boundaries and we’re extremely excited to see what this author talented will do next”.

Sarah Ditum, in her Guardian review, said The Rabbit Hutch “balances the mundane and the ecstatic in a way that made me think of the first David Foster Wallace. It’s a love story, told without sentimentality; a story of cruelty, told without gratuitousness.

The Waterstones Prize for First Fiction is a new prize for first novels of all genres, including translated fiction. The bookstore chain also organizes a children’s book award and names a book of the year.

Comments are closed.