Tess Gunty, winner of the 2023 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Rabbit Hutch, gives a reading and participates in a moderated Q&A session about the writing and publishing of her book on November 13, 2023 at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to all and will be held in person but will also be live streamed through Zoom. The in-person location will be James Branch Cabell Library, Room 303, 901 Park Ave., Richmond, Va. 23219. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks.


Register Now. 

About the Author

Gunty holds an MFA in creative writing from New York University, where she was a Lillian Vernon Fellow. She studied English with a concentration in creative writing at the University of Notre Dame. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Granta, LitHub, Joyland, Freeman’s, the Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere. Gunty grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and now lives in Los Angeles.

The Rabbit Hutch is the recipient of the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize and the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize. It was a finalist for the John Leonard Prize and the British Book Award for Debut Fiction. It was named one of 12 Essential Reads by The New Yorker and a best book of the year by The New York Times, NPR, People, Time, Oprah Daily, LitHub, The Chicago Tribune and Kirkus. The novel has been optioned for film rights by Fremantle and producer Richard Brown.


The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award is presented on behalf of VCU’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. Sponsors include: the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU Libraries, the Friends of VCU Libraries, the VCU Department of English and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.

2023 Winner

Twenty Second Annual Award
The Rabbit Hutch (Penguin Random House
By Tess Gunty


NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • The standout literary debut that everyone is talking about • “Inventive, heartbreaking and acutely funny.”—The Guardian

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, TIME, NPR, Oprah Daily, People

Blandine isn’t like the other residents of her building.

An online obituary writer. A young mother with a dark secret. A woman waging a solo campaign against rodents — neighbors, separated only by the thin walls of a low-cost housing complex in the once bustling industrial center of Vacca Vale, Indiana.

Welcome to the Rabbit Hutch.

Ethereally beautiful and formidably intelligent, Blandine shares her apartment with three teenage boys she neither likes nor understands, all, like her, now aged out of the state foster care system that has repeatedly failed them, all searching for meaning in their lives.

Set over one sweltering week in July and culminating in a bizarre act of violence that finally changes everything, The Rabbit Hutch is a savagely beautiful and bitingly funny snapshot of contemporary America, a gorgeous and provocative tale of loneliness and longing, entrapment and, ultimately, freedom.

“Gunty writes with a keen, sensitive eye about all manner of intimacies―the kind we build with other people, and the kind we cultivate around ourselves and our tenuous, private aspirations.”—Raven Leilani, author of Luster

Judges: The 2022 Winner Dawnie Walton; Students from the VCU MFA in Creative Writing Program; and the Cabell First Novelist Award Committee

Finalists: Noor Naga for If an Egyption Cannot Speak English (Graywolf Press), and Eloghosa Osunde for Vagabonds! (Penguin Random House)