Indiana Humanities and the Indiana Authors Awards held an INconversation between National Book Award winner Tess Gunty and Indiana author Susan Neville at the Indiana Landmarks Center on Monday, July 17, 2023.
South Bend-native Tess Gunty’s debut novel, The Rabbit Hutch, won the 2022 National Book Award for fiction. Set during one sweltering week in July and culminating in a bizarre act of violence, The Rabbit Hutch explores the interconnected stories of residents of a low-cost housing complex in the fictional city of Vacca Vale, Indiana. Loosely based on her hometown of South Bend, Gunty’s Vacca Vale is filled with distinct characters and vivid imagery of the post-industrial Midwest. Both intimate and sweeping, The Rabbit Hutch explores dialectical themes of loneliness and community, entrapment and freedom, religious dogma and mysticism.
Gunty’s novel also won the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize. It was named one of twelve essential reads by The New Yorker, and a best book of the year by TIME, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, People, the New York Times and others. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Granta, LitHub, Joyland, Freeman’s and elsewhere. Gunty received an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame University and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, where she was a Lillian Vernon Fellow. She now lives in Los Angeles.
Gunty was joined INconversation with Indiana author and Butler University professor emerita, Susan Neville, who writes essays and stories inspired by the history, culture and people of Indiana. In 2022, her book of short stories, The Town of Whispering Dolls, a book which also explores post-industrial America through the lens of a fictional Indiana town, won the Indiana Authors Award for fiction. Neville graduated from North Central High School in Indianapolis, DePauw University, Bowling Green State University, and in 2021 retired from teaching at Butler University after 38 years. She lives in Indianapolis.
Held in partnership between Indiana Humanities and the Indiana State Library’s Center for the Book, this event coincides with the paperback release of The Rabbit Hutch and the upcoming National Book Festival. The novel has been selected by the Indiana Center for the Book as the state’s 2023 contribution to the Library of Congress’s Great Reads from Great Places program held at the Festival.
AbouT TESS GUNTY
Tess Gunty’s debut novel, The Rabbit Hutch, won the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction, the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize. It was named one of twelve essential reads by The New Yorker, and a best book of the year by TIME, NPR, the Chicago Tribune, People, the New York Times and others. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Granta, LitHub, Joyland, Freeman’s, and elsewhere. Gunty holds an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, where she was a Lillian Vernon Fellow. She grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and now lives in Los Angeles.
ABOUT SUSAN NEVILLE
Susan Neville is the author of essays and stories inspired by the history, culture, and people of Indiana. Her most recent book of short stories, The Town of Whispering Dolls, won the Indiana Authors Award for fiction and the Catherine Doctorow Award for Short Fiction from Fiction Collective 2. In addition to books of fiction, she is the author of seven works of creative nonfiction and hybrid prose. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the winner of two Pushcart Prize awards.
Neville graduated from North Central High School in Indianapolis, DePauw University, Bowling Green State University, and in 2021 retired from teaching at Butler University after 38 years. She has not retired from writing, and recent essays and stories have appeared in the North American Review, Missouri Review, Image, Diagram, Southwest Review, and other journals. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two large dogs. Her brother, children, grandchildren, several cousins, and their families live nearby.
“My Life in Books: Tess Gunty,” SheerLuxe, 6 Oct. 2021
“An Otherworldly Glint: Tess Gunty Interviewed by Annabel Graham,” Bomb, 16 Aug. 2022
“Three Books That Make Tess Gunty Angry,” The New York Times, 11 June 2023
About Indiana Humanities
Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. Learn more at www.IndianaHumanities.org.
About the Indiana Authors Awards
The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards honor the best books written by Indiana authors. Awarded every two years, they celebrate Indiana writers, shine a light on the Hoosier state’s literary community and deepen connections between Indiana writers and readers. They were established in 2009 as a vision of Eugene and Marilyn Glick and are a new component of Indiana Humanities’ rich and diverse literary programming.
About the Indiana Center for the Book
The Indiana Center for the Book is a program of the Indiana State Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. It promotes interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries, and Indiana’s literary heritage by sponsoring events and serving as an information resource at the state and local level. The Center supports both the professional endeavors and the popular pursuits of Indiana’s residents toward reading and writing.
About the Indiana State Library
The Indiana State Library serves Indiana residents, leads and supports Indiana’s library community and preserves Indiana’s history. Learn more at www.in.gov/library.
About the National Book Festival
The 23rd annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, August 12, from 9am to 8pm (doors open at 8:30pm). The event is free and open to the public. A selection of programs will be livestreamed online, and videos of all programs will be available shortly after the Festival.