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  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9781761040931
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $32.99

The Rabbits

Winner of the Penguin Literary Prize

From the winner of the Penguin Literary Prize and the Kathleen Mitchell Award.
A multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.

How do you make sense of the loss of those you love most?

Delia Rabbit has asked herself this question over and over again since the disappearance of her older sister, Bo. Crippled by grief, Delia and her mother became dysfunctional, parting ways not long after Delia turned eighteen.

Now an art teacher at a Queensland college, Delia has managed to build a new life for herself and to create a family of her own. Only more and more that life is slipping: her partner, Ed, has gone, her daughter, Olive, is distancing herself, and, all of a sudden, in the middle of a blinding heatwave, her sixteen-year-old son, Charlie, disappears too.

Suddenly what was buried feels close to the surface, and the Rabbits are faced not only with each other, but also with themselves.

The Rabbits is a multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.

  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9781761040931
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Sophie Overett

Sophie Overett is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and cultural producer. Her stories have been published in Griffith Review, Going Down Swinging, Overland, The Sleepers Almanac, and elsewhere. She won the 2018 AAWP Short Story Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for multiple awards, including the Text Prize and the Richell Prize. She’s passionate about storytelling in all of its forms, but particularly stories for the page and the screen. She writes across genres and formats, with a focus on magical realism, literary fiction and horror. The Rabbits, her debut novel, is the winner of the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize, and her first screenplay, All the Little Fishes, has been optioned by Cathartic Pictures. For more information, visit sophieoverett.com.

Praise for The Rabbits

The Rabbits is a tense suburban drama that probes the limits of family bonds and human potential. Sophie Overett, who won the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize for the manuscript, has crafted a novel that dips comfortably into multiple genres, blending elements of magic realism and crime thrillers into a taut literary narrative. In The Rabbits Overett brings a fresh eye to the suburban novel; her debut is keenly observed and punctuated by moments of surprise.

Bec Cavanaugh, Bookseller + Publisher

This is a book that compels you to keep reading, late into the night, because you want to know what the hell is going on. It’s no surprise Overett’s manuscript for The Rabbits won the Penguin Literary Prize in 2020. The writing is deft and agile, the concept is original, the craftsmanship impressive. This is a writer who actually creates physical sensations inside the reader with her descriptions and her sense of doom. But it’s a doom that is balanced with lightness and a sense that maybe everything will work out in the end. This is a truly original story that will keep you hooked right through to the delicious ending.

Gabrielle Williams, Readings

If you like a touch of fantasy with your realism, you'll love this novel. This multigenerational story is full of family secrets, mild superpowers, loneliness, strange connections and a dose of magic realism. It will immerse you in the blood, sweat and tears of the Rabbits. Completely captivating.

Reader's Digest

What makes the novel surprising, and different, is the magical realism that unexpectedly appears in this otherwise ordinary setting a third of the way in – and largely drives the narrative from that point forward. The result is a whirring, breathless tangle of reality and unreality, forcing the reader to question the truth, then question it again. Overett uses fantasy to reveal something grounded in reality – in this case, the unknowability of the people around us, even those we think we understand most intimately. It’s an ambitious undertaking to interweave literary fiction and magic realism, but Overett executes it beautifully. The fantastical elements are never quite explained, but the plot and characterisation are so convincing and clever that they don’t really need to be. "Nothing’s just one thing,” Banjo muses close to the end of the novel. The Rabbits can be summed up exactly so – it’s a truly unique work that prises open the faultlines in a family to reveal the inexplicable, sublime magic pulsing beneath.

Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, The Guardian

This is a novel about the Rabbit family and all the hurdles on their track of life, some higher than others. A rewarding read with wonderful, rich characters that I guarantee will constantly surprise you.

Neale Lucas, Good Reading Magazine

When Charlie disappears, and it's not your usual missing child scenario, it's the catalyst for the Rabbits to discover themselves individually and as a family, with the three remaining members sharing their story in each chapter. Overett won the Penguin Literary Prize to get this, her debut, to the shelves, and the metaphor-rich and perfectly composed story has since won the Kathleen MItchell Award. Deservedly so.

Jason Nahrung, Herald Sun

This wonderfully detailed and perceptive novel of the human conditionAdded to this, the Rabbits’ story is laced with magical, and mildly disturbing superpowers. Additionally, they face the problems of finding their place in life, true friendship, betrayal and misunderstandings between the generations. These are three generations of dysfunctional, tortured human beings who discover that others are that way too, to a greater or lesser degree. A terrific must-read for 2021!

Dee Young, Brisbanista

A lushly written family drama set in Brisbane during a summer that permeates everything. The glimpses that Overett offers of the wild city - the subtropical heat working its power on characters throughout, the air and grass teeming with the sounds and sights of insects, reptiles and birds - that are especially memorable.

Elizabeth Bryer, Australian Book Review

It’s easy to see why this intriguing novel won the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize. It explores the human condition through the lives of a family from the various points of view of its members. Among its outstanding features are the colourful descriptions Sophie Overett sprinkles throughout.

Erich Mayer, Arts Hub

This novel is clever and the writing is confident.

Helen Elliot, The Age

The cover of The Rabbits, showing a Hills Hoist and overgrown lawn, indicates something hiding in this suburban household, even as an outsized sun bears down, reminding us of the deep shadows it can cast. In the end, Charlie’s disappearance remains unfathomable, even though in his absence, we and his family come to know him a little better. If The Rabbits is more prolonged family drama than mystery or crime novel, it excels at exposing the small frictions and life-sapping tensions of family life, the way secrets can hamstring relationships, relationships can fall apart, and family members can still band together regardless.

Gemma Betros, Sydney Review of Books

Discover more

The Rabbits book club notes

A (Penguin Literary Prize) winning pick for book club.

Sophie Overett Q&A

The Penguin Literary Prize winner on inspiration, advice and what's next.