Brilliant insight and gleaming prose light up this report from the darkest interior, where Binnie Kirshenbaum’s acerbic, grieving, all-too clear-sighted protagonist has become imprisoned by despair. Enduring love is no match here for irremediable loss, but Kirshenbaum conducts us on the journey with steady authorial nerves, high-wire insouciance, quicksilver wit, and limitless compassion.
— Deborah Eisenberg
 
Website Rabbits Eisenberg.jpg

Published May 7, 2019

It’s New Year’s Eve, the holiday of forced fellowship, mandatory fun, and paper hats.While dining out with her husband and their friends, Kirshenbaum’s protagonist—an acerbic, mordantly witty, and clinically depressed writer—fully unravels. Her breakdown lands her in the psych ward of a prestigious New York hospital, where she refuses all modes of recommended treatment. Instead, she passes the time chronicling the lives of her fellow “lunatics” and writing a novel about what brought her there. Her story is a brilliant and brutally funny dive into the disordered mind of a woman who sees the world all too clearly.

Propelled by razor-sharp comic timing and rife with pinpoint insights, Kirshenbaum examines what it means to be unloved and loved, to succeed and fail, to be at once impervious and raw. Rabbits for Food shows how art can lead us out of—or into—the depths of disconsolate loneliness and piercing grief. A bravura literary performance from one of our most and indispensable writers.

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Praise for Rabbits for Food

“Binnie Kirshenbaum has hit her considerable stride in Rabbits for Food. This novel is compulsive reading; it’s wonderfully paced, explosively funny and witty, and very, very wise about many grave things—but mostly about merely being human.”
—Richard Ford

“Psychiatric dayroom dark and just as funny, Rabbits for Food breaks down the mental breakdown into disquieting bite-sized pieces. It’s fast-paced and turbulent, but beautifully complex, and the details are stunning. So chew slowly—this is one you’ll want to savor.”
Paul Beatty

“A joy-giving and hilarious letter from the realm of despair. Also, somehow, a gentle love story. Marvelous and beautiful.”
Rivka Galchen


“Haunted, astringent, and grimly funny, Rabbits for Food explores without a grain of sentimentality or exaggeration the sort of crisis that any of us might fall prey to. In her ‘unlikeable’ protagonist, Binnie Kirshenbaum has created a hero for our time: articulate but misunderstood, loved but lonely, unsuccessful but not a failure, sophisticated to the point of jadedness, and on the verge of a devastating breakdown.
Christopher Sorrentino

“I really, really love the new BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM NOVEL.”

tINA jORDAN


”BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM’S RABBITS FOR FOOD IS THE FUNNIEST AND MOST DEVASTATING NOVEL I’VE READ IN A LONG WHILE.”

gARY sHTEYNGART

“BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM SURELY IS A REMARKABLE AND HIGHLY GIFTED WRITER.”

wAS LIEST DU? review

“witty, caustic, revelatory and tragic… bunny reads like a fictional carrie fisher—keenly aware of the darkness that looms large in her mind, with an acid tongue but full of heart and undeniably brilliant.”

—cHANGING hANDS bOOKSTORE

“i’VE GOT THAT ELECTRIFIED FEELING WHEN YOU’VE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH A NOVEL AND WISHED IT DIDN’T END… RABBITS FOR FOOD BY BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM. IT’S A WORK OF ART.

—vICTOR lAvALLE

“One of the remarkable achievements of Rabbits for Food is how Kirshenbaum manages to be clever in the midst of overwhelming despair. Because of her wit, the patently dour subject is not depressing; there is a great deal of humor, compassion, and sensitivity for the material. Readers will quickly commit to this extraordinary novel. Laser-sharp prose, compelling observations, and an engaging, sympathetic central figure conspire to make it a page-turner. Rabbits for Food is an impressive achievement. It should be read as soon as possible.”

L.A. REVIEW OF BOOKS

“The female narrator I’ve been waiting for. Wickedly funny as well as seriously depressed. Binnie Kirshenbaum, the great novelist of female neurosis, has given us, in Rabbits for Food, the only story that really matters—a troubled soul deciding if life is worth living or not.”
Darcey Steinke


“Kirshenbaum might have written this with a blade, her wit is that sharp and deep. Cutting to the bone, Kirshenbaum allows no sentimentality in this bracing novel. Rabbits for Food is stark in its descriptions, beautifully written, weirdly funny, and engrossing. I was riveted.”
Lynne Tillman


“Binnie Kirshenbaum is an unflinching teller of truths. She’s also sublimely funny. Rabbits for Food shows this immensely gifted writer at the height of her powers.”
Jenny Offill

Kirshenbaum’s first novel in 10 years —a tour de force about 43-year-old novelist’s descent into an abysmal clinical depression—is a remarkable achievement that expertly blends pathos and humor…. The death of her best friend tipped her [into A] downward spiral, which bottoms out at a suffocating New Year’s Eve dinner that goes very bad. Soon, she’s checked in to a psych ward and under the care of doctors whose ideas about treatment diverge sharply from her own. There are hints of pending doom in flashbacks of Bunny’s childhood: her family. Amid the backstory and Bunny’s razor-sharp scrutiny of living in a mental hospital, Kirshenbaum sprinkles in Bunny’s brilliantly written and revelatory responses to the writing prompts given in the psych ward’s creative writing class. Elsewhere, Bunny’s cutting riffs on life in New York City, the psychiatrists she has seen throughout her life, and the effects of numerous medications, are eye-opening. Comparisons to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest are obvious and warranted, but Kirshenbaum’s dazzling novel stands on its own as a crushing work of immense heart. (May)
Starred Review—Publisher’s Weekly

“This is my first exposure to Binnie Kirshenbaum and now I'm going to have to read everything she has written. Kirshenbaum writes with precision and depth, sharp wit and tender empathy, and out of nowhere in particular and every sentence/setting/moment emerges a colorful and tactile field of a story that is yours to experience… Layering emotional, relational, and sensorial explosions with the expended effort that is the daily maintenance of life, Kirshenbaum gives us this excellent novel, one that should not be missed.”

—ODYSSEY BOOKSTORE

“bINNIE kIRSHENBAUM’S FIRST BOOK IN A DECADE [IS] WICKEDLY ASTUTE AND HILARIOUSLY FUNNY… IF YOU ARE GOING TO ENTER THE HEART OF DARKNESS YOU MAY AS WELL ENJOY IT WITH KIRSHENBAUM’S FIERCE, FUNNY, WRITING.”

—tHE BOSTON GLOBE

“Kirshenbaum offers a veritable primer on depression, spiked with lines like: ‘despair cannot be monitored like blood pressure or mesured in centimeters like a tumor.’”

—booklist

“Kirshenbaum breaks up this restrained narrative with prompts from Bunny’s therapeutic writing workshop, revealing a more complete and sometimes contradictory picture of a woman who’s struggling to rationalize what’s happened to her.”

The Atlantic

ONE OF the most anticipated books of 2019

featured in:

THE NEW YORK times, ‘14 new books to read this may’:

“the book is a bitingly funny, and occasionally heartbreaking, look at mental illness, love and relationships, with kirshenbaum’s familiar black humor.”

kirkus review, ‘what i’m reading this summer’:

“my favorite things to do during the summer are eat and read outside—preferably at the same time, and occasionally at the beach. I’m excited to dig into the pile that’s been growing next to my desk, surefire novels by authors whose previous work i’ve loved. at the top is Rabbits for food by binnie kirshenbaum.

buzzfeed news, ‘37 amazing new books to add to your spring reading list’:

“Binnie Kirshenbaum's Rabbits for Food — her first novel in 10 years—is a burst of energy, following a middle-aged woman's mental breakdown and subsequent hospitalization. The aftermath is often hilarious. Our narrator examines her surroundings—the eccentric patients and doctors, the absurd daily activities, the Kafkaesque system—with a blunt and biting wit that leaves little room for sentimentality.”

people, ‘the best new books’:

“kirshenbaum’s portrait of intractable depression is acerbic, heartbreaking and improbably hilarious.”

lithub, ‘most anticipated books of 2019’:

“i COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED FOR KIRSHENBAUM’S FIRST NOVEL IN 10 YEARS.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES, ‘8 NEW BOOKS WE RECOMMEND THIS WEEK’:

“kIRSHENBAUM DOESN’T TRIVIALIZE MENTAL BREAKDOWN. SHE MAKES BUNNY’S DEBILITATION RAW AND WORRYING, AND NOT WITHOUT ITS INSIGHTS.”

FORWARD, ‘7 NEW BOOKS TO READ THIS MAY’:

“How better to welcome the (theoretically) warmer months than by reading a book that chronicles a woman undergoing mental and emotional collapse on New Year’s Eve? Kirshenbaum’s first novel since “The Scenic Route” (2009) follows its unhappy protagonist into a New York psych ward in which, while determinedly refusing to engage in treatment, she sets to writing about the other occupants. With months of misery-inducing cold in the distance, her plight wilL—hopefully—feel far away. But Kirshenbaum’s humor and insight make the troubling story she tells, and the troubled souls who occupy it, feel fresh.”

LITERARY HUB, ‘THE 13 BEST BOOK COVERS OF MAY’

ENGLEWOOD REVIEW, ‘EXCERPTS FROM SOME OF MAY’S BEST FICTION BOOKS’