The Rabbit and the Squirrel – Siddharth Dhanvant Sanghvi: Book Review by Asha Seth

Author: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi | Genre: Fiction, Graphic | Pages: 74 | Publisher: Penguin India

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The Rabbit and the Squirrel is a fairy tale for the modern day by one of India’s much-loved young authors. Illustrated by Stina Wirsén, this poignant and moving fable for all ages was originally conceived by the author as a private gift of love for a beloved friend. Featuring a bisexual bunny and an heiress squirrel, by turns witty and absurd, endearing and brave, this little book harbours a fine ache that lends it a timeless quality.

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A story that came alive in pictures first, then in words. So admits the author himself. A rabbit and a squirrel that seem deeply engrossed in a conversation or having a gala time, perhaps, grip you by your collar and you dive in headfirst, falling down the rabbit hole, having no hope, and wanting none either, of emerging out sound at the other end, and that’s how now I’ve warned you, dear reader.

“Without love, age leapt into him like a demon.”

A timeless tale of love and friendship or perhaps, love in friendship; it’s hard to tell, once again done in the style the author is a genius of – elegant phrases, top-notch emotional spins, rich vocabulary, captivating narration, poignant characters, and the whatnots of a classic piece of literature – are all in abundance here, in this story finished in less than two quarters of an hour. When you shut the book however, you know instantly that something’s latched on, a feeling of vague disquiet albeit the calm, and you’d be digging for this book on your shelves again, soon.

“How come no one tells a rabbit to settle down? It’s completely kosher for all of you to “fuck like bunnies” – in fact, it’s part of the job description.”

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Dripping with deep meditation on self-identity, on one’s purpose in life, on love, on loss, on friendship, on wanting to be and not be at once, to have it all and give it up too, on the bitter truths of life and society, this novella has much to think and talk about. The two main characters sway back and forth on tides of expectations, they rise and fall languishing in the dearth of those who care and understand. While the rabbit is an epitome of a free soul, the squirrel is a classic example of those who have been crushed under the baggage of impractical norms and have succumbed, eventually.

Part joy part melancholy, this tale is one of vigor in hardships, love in friendships, compromise in kinship, all brilliantly captured in the signature witty humor of Sanghvi’s pen.

A cute little book with endearing illustrations that will keep you glued to the page but what will bring you back here are the rabbit and the squirrel and their magnanimous world of undying passion. Anyone who’s been madly in love, will fall irrevocably in love with this book. And that’s a promise! Recommended to one and all. I leave here with these final thoughts in the author’s words,

Without love and friendship, we’d be a planet of lemmings, jumping off the cliff, no one quite knowing why.

Have you read ‘The Rabbit and the Squirrel’? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy reading till we meet next. Until then, carpe diem!