Professor Binnie Kirshenbaum's Latest Novel 'Rabbits for Food' out Now
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, May 15, 2019
“A bitingly funny, and occasionally heartbreaking, look at mental illness, love and relationships, with Kirshenbaum’s familiar black humor.”—The New York Times
This is Professor Kirshenbaum's first novel in a decade, and it's a devastating, laugh-out-loud funny story of a writer’s slide into depression and institutionalization. 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.
“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, author of Your Duck Is My Duck and fellow faculty member at Columbia
“A remarkable achievement that expertly blends pathos and humor . . . 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.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Kirshenbaum received a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is the author of the story collection History on a Personal Note and seven novels, Rabbits for Food, On Mermaid Avenue, A Disturbance in One Place, Pure Poetry, Hester Among The Ruins, An Almost Perfect Moment and The Scenic Route. Her novels have been chosen as Notable Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, NPR, Time, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post; she twice won Critics Choice Awards and was selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American novelists. She’s published short fiction and essays in many magazines and anthologies. Her work has been widely translated.