PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FINALIST * CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE SHORTLIST * NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREE * NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORKER, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, DEBUTIFUL, ELECTRIC LITERATURE, AND MORE.
"A darkly sensuous tale of awakening that will quietly engulf you in flames."-Ling Ma, author of Severance
When the unnamed narrator of Little Rabbit first meets the choreographer at an artists' residency in Maine, it's not a match. She finds him loud, conceited, domineering. He thinks her serious, guarded, always running away to write. But when he reappears in her life in Boston and invites her to his dance company's performance, she's compelled to attend. Their interaction at the show sets off a summer of expanding her own body's boundaries: She follows the choreographer to his home in the Berkshires, to his apartment in New York, and into submission during sex. Her body learns to obediently follow his, and his desires quickly become inextricable from her pleasure. This must be happiness, right?
Back in Boston, her roommate Annie's skepticism amplifies her own doubts about these heady weekend retreats. What does it mean for a queer young woman to partner with an older man, for a fledgling artist to partner with an established one? Is she following her own agency, or is she merely following him? Does falling in love mean eviscerating yourself?
Combining the sticky sexual politics of Luster with the dizzying, perceptive intimacy of Cleanness, Little Rabbit is a wholly new kind of coming-of-age story about lust, punishment, artistic drive, and desires that defy the hard-won boundaries of the self.
Songsiridej's hot and sometimes heavy-handed debut tracks the relationship of an unnamed narrator, a writer, with a choreographer 20 years her senior. Though the choreographer had initially annoyed the narrator when they met at a residency (he called her "Little Rabbit" because she was "always running off to work"), she agrees to attend his dance performance. Eventually, they begin sleeping together. "Rabbit" commutes from the Boston area to visit him, either at his luxe New York City apartment or his spacious Berkshires country house. Her roommate and best friend, Annie, disapproves; Rabbit is bisexual and Annie, a lesbian, wants her to date women. But the choreographer has a wealthy ex-wife benefactor, and to pay it forward, he offers to support Rabbit's writing career. As Rabbit gets in deeper, the relationship veers into S&M territory, and though Rabbit does not want to be the choreographer's "little woman," she enjoys playing a submissive role. Some of the messages about class differences and sexuality feel a bit overstated, but the progression of the relationship is subtle and intriguing, and Songsiridej pulls off sex scenes that a lesser writer could have made cringeworthy. It adds up to an addictive tale of obsessive love.