This is a beautiful book. I haven’t laughed out loud so often, and with such genuine pleasure, since last year’s Comedy Festival. And that’s saying something, because this book isn’t comedy at all; in fact, much of it is tragic and heartbreaking. But this is what makes ‘When God was a Rabbit’ unique; a book to treasure. It takes the most difficult situations (child neglect, abuse, first love, loneliness, anxiety, separation and loss) and without making light of any of them, deftly skews the picture so that what is illuminated is not so much the tragedy itself, but the human errors along the way, common enough to all of us as to be both instantly recognisable and… well, tragically funny. It would be too cliched to merely call this ‘black humour’ – Winman has achieved much more than that. I’m left with the feeling that maybe all family histories, no matter how bleak, bland or banal, are worthy of being told – so long as you can just find the right voice. I think of how many books I read each year that deal with grief, triumph over adversity, “epic sagas” and so on, and I invariably take much away from them. But I don’t always enjoy the process. When God Was a Rabbit offers a story that will resonate long after you forget the details, but it’s also an absolute pleasure of an experience.
I only have one gripe with this book, and that is that I’ve bought three copies so far and none has stayed resident on my shelf for longer than a week. Admittedly, I keep giving it away, but still – that’s a fair warning to any of you who may unwittingly fall into the same trap after reading this book!