Catch the Rabbit is a sensitively traced story of female friendship that recalls the troubled bond of Lenù and Lila in [Elena] Ferrante’s novels ... Sara’s attachment to her friend has a Kinbotean quality: she wants to understand Lejla, become her, and annihilate her all at once. Bastašić develops this undercurrent masterfully, exploiting the double sense of lines that seem casual at first sight ... The pleasure of Catch the Rabbit lies in the way Bastašić fuses delicate scenes from a passionate friendship between girls with surreal elements that convey unspoken pains and tender aggressions. As in the best examples of magical realism, the unreal feels true here ... A road trip is the quintessential hero’s journey. Bastašić deliberately hits the marks one might expect if one has read Joseph Campbell on the monomyth, or watched any contemporary Hollywood movie.
Catch the Rabbit, the spectacular debut novel from the Yugoslavian-born Lana Bastašić, uses...quieter consequences of the war and its aftermath to bolster a fantastically genuine yet gently fantastical story of female friendship ... Bastašić, who also translated the book into English, is a glorious writer, approaching even familiar emotions with a unique vibrancy, and if Catch the Rabbit simply followed Sara and Lejla as they drove from, say, Minneapolis to St. Louis, it would still be well worth your time. But the novel's true brilliance lies in the many ways that the war, though rarely explicitly named, infuses and enhances every aspect of Sara's narration ... There is no historical hand-holding here, however, rather breadcrumbs that lead to unavoidable conclusions about Sara and Lejla's lives. And while readers unfamiliar with the war or the region may miss out on some of those insights, the main messages in this unmissable novel are clear[.]
Sara is a ferociously satisfying narrator, and though the subject of this book has already been adduced as some kind of Ferrante friendship X-ray, that shortchanges Bastašić’s skill. The heart of the novel is a braiding of time and love ... Recalling and examining that 'naive talk' is how Catch the Rabbit shines.
...a startling confrontation of memory, boundaries, disappearance, and identities bartered, elided, imagined, and betrayed. Bastašić’s intense examination of female friendship provides a portal into the tumultuous recent history of the former Yugoslavia. Awarded the 2020 European Union Prize for Literature, Bastašić’s compelling and enlightening first novel arrives in the U.S. in her own agile translation, sure to engage urbane anglophone readers.
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.