cover image Catch the Rabbit

Catch the Rabbit

Lana Bastašić. Restless, $18 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63206-289-5

Bastašić’s EU Prize–winning debut follows a Yugoslav-born woman’s stunning Alice in Wonderland–style journey through Bosnia after returning home. Sara is living in Dublin when she gets a pleading phone call from Lejla, her childhood best friend, after 12 years of silence between the two 30-something women. Lejla wants Sara to take her to Vienna to help find her older brother, Armin. Unable to resist Lejla, Sara flies to Zagreb and takes the bus to Mostar, her hometown. Along the way, Sara flashes back to memories of school, birthday parties, and adolescent misadventures with boys. As the magnetic Lejla and Sara grow older, Sara’s identity becomes so wrapped up in Lejla’s that their personalities feed on each other. In the present, as they travel into desolate regions of Bosnia still bearing scars from the war, Sara, reliving her past, realizes that Lejla has created a “better version of me,” while Lejla needs their newfound connection to give her the courage to find her brother—and perhaps herself. Like twin Alices, their wonderland is both terrifying and enlightening, from the white rabbit Sara steals to cement her relationship with Lejla to a deep descent into the catacombs. Sara desperately wants to keep the childhood Lejla she once knew all to herself, but that seems less likely with each new adventure and disturbing realization during the search for Armin. The narrative reaches a greatly satisfying climax, built on themes of rediscovering the past, memories, women’s friendships, language, and identity. This unforgettable tour de force surprises at every turn. (June)