It's the first great novel of the summer.” —Debutiful
“A sweetly shocking novel exploring identity, love, lust, friendship, art, pain and possession.” —Ms.
“Like a modern queer feminist Story of O, this nuanced exploration of desire and the unseen dance between the lover and the beloved sucks you into its lush, yet precisely-rendered reality, one edged with ambiguity regarding possession and power, perception and identity.” —Electric Literature
“Alyssa Songsiridej's Little Rabbit shocked me. It tells truths about sex, the self, and art-making that I'd never seen on the page or even known the words to think before. It's bold, frightening, and magnificent, a work deserving of this honor and many more.” —Julia Phillips, Vulture
“A worthy contemplation of sexual politics, revealing how losing and finding yourself do not have to be mutually exclusive.” —Claire Kohda, New York Times Book Review
“It's the sexiest book we've read in a long time…a seductive, deeply complex exploration of power and agency, and lust and love. It rushes through you and leaves you stunned.” —goop
“[. . .] explores power dynamics and kink within an unexpected relationship with riveting nuance…Little Rabbit arrives at just the right time, serving as a fearless inquiry into the power of bodies and intimacy.” —Observer
“A darkly sensuous tale of awakening that will quietly engulf you in flames.” —Ling Ma, author of SEVERANCE
“A deeply empathetic and horny novel-a love letter to bottoming and being an artist and following yourself to the end of everything.” —Carmen Maria Machado, author of IN THE DREAM HOUSE
“Little Rabbit is a glorious debut-riveting, soulful, cerebral, and the sexiest novel I've ever read. In this story about ambition, power, art-making, and the pursuit of beauty, perfect for fans of Luster and Bad Behavior, Alyssa Songsiridej thrillingly interrogates the conflict between reason and desire, between our public and private selves. My life is richer for having read this book. Yours will be too.” —Jessamine Chan, author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS
“Little Rabbit turned me inside out and left me utterly in awe. This daring exploration of the boundaries between desire and obliteration will have you asking who is in control. A fearless portrayal of a young writer shaping her life and art, even as they collide.” —Sanaë Lemoine, author of THE MARGOT AFFAIR
“Eviscerating. Sophisticated. So incredibly hot.” —Rachel Yoder, author of NIGHTBITCH
“Scintillating and seductive, almost unbearably perceptive, Little Rabbit announces the arrival of a brilliant new voice in literature, one who knows how to make the body sing.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
“What a hypnotic, sexy, smart, unputdownable book! It delves into so many of my favorite subjects: erotic obsession, art, friendship, and the slippery and surprising nature of selfhood.” —Melissa Febos, author of GIRLHOOD
“A fierce and utterly compelling look at the nearly biological instinct to nurture a love affair, even when that love isn't understood by others, and it blows your world apart. Little Rabbit is a totally absorbing debut: nuanced, intelligent, and sexy as hell.” —Courtney Maum, author of THE YEAR OF THE HORSES
“Little Rabbit is a brilliant debut by a rare talent. Songsiridej writes with tremendous precision, intelligence, and insight about the complexities of desire-how it can prompt the impulse to empower, possess, erase, and recreate one's lover and oneself.” —Chloé Cooper Jones, author of EASY BEAUTY
“An exhilarating story of intense desire, creative ambition, sex, and power. Little Rabbit's honest exploration of kink, control, and sexual freedom obsessed and transported me. When I reached the final page, I was stunned.” —Hanna Halperin, author of SOMETHING WILD
“Little Rabbit refuses to play into tropes that to be submissive is to be inherently exploited, and is also a nuanced exploration of BDSM and power. It's hard to put down, sexy, and not predictable.” —Buzzfeed
“This is a New York novel of simmering resentment, artist wannabes and successful artists, have-nots mocking the haves. Then a tantalizing queer confessional, where a bisexual woman writer is pulled to the kind of patriarchal male dancer she'd never spared a second for. Here the nearness of artistic fame is so palpable, you will desire it for the narrator nearly as much as she desires the consummation of her glittering S&M relationship. Skillfully and tautly drawn.” —Chaya Bhuvaneswar, San Francisco Chronicle
DEBUT From Electric Literature managing editor Songsiridej, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, this puzzling if refreshingly risk-taking debut examines the complexities of love and desire via the steamy relationship between a wealthy, established male choreographer and an aspiring young female writer, the book's unnamed narrator. After they meet at a residency in Maine, she agrees to attend a dance performance he's staging, and they quickly plunge into a relationship thrumming with erotic energy. As she is bisexual and has had some bad experiences with men, this turn of events alarms her lesbian friend and roommate. It alarms readers, too; how can she fall for an imperious older man who's nicknamed her Little Rabbit because she's "small and wild and determined to survive"? The novel ends with a work he choreographs for her on his lead dancer, which makes her see their love as frightening. But it doesn't frighten her away: "I thought I'd served him all this time, but he really served me. …All to figure out what I wanted and to give." VERDICT The relationship depicted here both challenges and disturbs, which would seem to be the point. Love is inexplicable and a hard taskmaster, and if Songsiridej doesn't exactly nail what she wants, she asks important questions.
A 30-year-old writer begins a fraught sexual relationship with a 51-year-old choreographer.
The unnamed narrator of Songsiridej’s debut attends a dance performance choreographed by a much older man—also unnamed—whom she meets at a residency. Afterward, at dinner, he orders a gin martini, and somehow that does the trick. “I knew, right then, that I would sleep with him.” Why? It’s unclear. For a dedicated writer, up at 5 a.m. every day to write before her administrative job, the narrator has a surprisingly limited vocabulary. In the onslaught of sex scenes and seductions that ensue, she fails to summon the specificity that might convince a reader of their chemistry. Instead, strange word choices (“I…made gutted animal sounds”), frequent clichés (“More, my body called, harder”), and awkward phrasing (“I froze as if with fright, but fright mixed with a pulse”) all make for a confusing and uncomfortable read. In the merciful intermissions between the sex scenes, the narrator ruminates—with equal vagueness—on her sexual submissiveness with an older, wealthier man and her loosening ties with the queer community. Her relationship with her roommate and supposed friend, Annie, is deteriorating, though given how jealous, controlling, and astonishingly naïve Annie is (“You stayed at his apartment,” she says to the narrator. “A stranger?”), one can’t help but think their relationship is better off dead. “I knew what Annie wanted,” the narrator thinks, “a narrative, a pattern of elegantly spaced beats between ‘bad’ and ‘good’ to vindicate both my attitude then and how I felt about the choreographer now.” As it happens, the reader might want some of these things, too, and in the end, this novel fails to deliver them.
An exploration of sexual dynamics that is too vague to illuminate or provoke.