Alumna Tess Gunty wins the National Book Award for her first novel | News | Notre Dame News
Tess Gunty, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, won the National Book Award for fiction for her debut novel, “The Rabbit Hutch.”
Born and raised in South Bend, Gunty majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. In the novel’s acknowledgments, Gunty thanks the faculty of Our Lady Joyelle McSweeney, Orlando Menes, Steve Tomasula, and Anne García-Romero.
“My Notre Dame writing teachers uprooted my literary preconceptions and planted far better ideas in their place,” Gunty wrote. “I treasured their generosity as an undergrad, and I continue to treasure it now.”
Gunty will return to South Bend and Notre Dame for two public events in the coming weeks – “From South Bend to Vacca Vale: A Conversation with Tess Gunty” at the Eck Center Auditorium on November 30, and “An Evening with Tess Gunty: The Rabbit Hutch” at the main branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library on December 1.
Described as surreal, haunting, wickedly funny and full of heart, “The Rabbit Hutch” weaves together the lives of people residing in a low-income apartment complex in the fictional town of Vacca Vale, in the Rust Belt of Indiana, which never recovered from the collapse. of the Zorn Automobile factory. Gunty’s novel explores contemporary malaise, delves into medieval Catholic mysticism, and weaves through multiple narratives with verve, acumen, and deep care.
Leah Greenblatt of The New York Times called “The Rabbit Hutch” “mesmerizing” and “a novel of awe-inspiring scope and specificity”.
“One of the pleasures of storytelling is the way it delights in language, all the rhythms and repetitions and swirls of meaning-shells to extract from the dull husks of everyday life,” Greenblatt wrote. “[Gunty] also has a way of leaning his thumb on the fragility and absurdity of being a person in the world; all the sweet, secret needs and strange intimacies. The best phrases in the book — and there are heaps to choose from — ring with that recognition, even in ordinary detail.
While at Notre Dame, Gunty spent his sophomore year in Angers, France, studying French language and culture at the Catholic University of the West. On campus, she taught at the Writing Center and her play “Taxidermy” won an ND Theater Now award. In her senior year, the English Department nominated her for four awards; his collection of poems “Radis Beds” won the Ernest Sandeen Prize.
Gunty has written for Notre Dame Magazine both as a student and an alumnus, including an interview with McSweeney, a creative writing professor at Notre Dame, after the faculty member won a scholarship Guggenheim this year.
After graduating from Notre Dame, she began a master’s degree in creative writing at New York University, where she was a Lillian Vernon Fellow. There she taught undergraduate students, helped coordinate the Emerging Writers Reading Series, and received a research grant to develop her novel in Paris. Throughout college, she volunteered as a mentor at Still Waters in a Storm, a reading and writing sanctuary for children in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
After earning her MFA, she worked alongside her former professor Jonathan Safran Foer, providing research and writing for his non-fiction book on the climate crisis, “We Are the Weather.” As a freelance writer, editor, and research assistant, his experience also includes documenting the history of the Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns; contribution of an Atlanta neighborhood story to an urban revitalization plan by Thadani Architects + Urbanists; create scientific content for the American Museum of Natural History; the edition of Bruce Rits Gilbert’s first book, “John Prine, One Song at a Time”, a tribute to the folk musician written in the wake of Prine’s death; and working as a fact checker on “Mysteries of Mental Illness,” a PBS docuseries about the history of psychiatry in America.
Originally posted by al.nd.edu on November 17.at