REVIEWS

From India Today—24 August 2012
“This illustrated rabbit fable is a new chapter in the lengthy and venerable list of rabbits in English language fiction and film, not to mention the clever rabbits of the Panchatantra. Like the all-time champion trickster, Br'er Rabbit, based on native American legend, the Farooqis' rabbits are suited and shirted. As in Bugs Bunny, there are scenes of pure slapstick while the chapter headings are a nod to A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne's Rabbit is thought by his fellow creatures to be clever, although his plans often go awry. And the same can be said of the chief character in this book, Rabbit Hab, farmer and chairman of the Lapin Alliance for Progressive Sowing Endeavours (LAPSE).

The story revolves around Rabbit Hab and his personal and professional life. His personal life is bound up with the warren in which he lives, which is divided into two factions-the East Wingers and the West Wingers (no reference to the White House). Here his main opponent is the unlikely figure of Gran-Bunny-Ma-illustrated grasping her walking stick and swathed in a dressing gown but still wearing lipstick and large, fashionable glasses.

In his celebrated novel Watership Down, Richard Adams also created a rabbit world centred around warrens. His rabbits too had human characteristics, and he too critiqued society through them. The three warrens featured in Watership Down are said to represent socialism, totalitarianism and democracy-the last being the most successful. Human beings were very much part of this world, but for the most part were featured for being detrimental to nature and destructive of any other creatures' needs but their own.

While the Farooqis also have a Chief Rabbit-as in Watership Down- this is a very different world. There are no humans even visible. Rabbits rule it and rabbits destroy it. In short, rabbits stand for humans, as is clear from the first chapter. Real rabbits are herbivores: These ones have fish farms. Humour, and irony are the Farooqis' weapons, as through the text and the cartoon illustrations we see how a traditional closely knit, though factionalised society breaks down and descends into rampant, unnatural and angry individualism. Warrens are deserted for new housing, the nerd or New Era Rabbit Den and previously trim, healthy rabbits transform into fat, couch potato frumps, or Fat Rabbits Urging Modern Perspectives.

Professionally, the ultimate enemies are implicitly those who hold the real moral high ground-the organic farmers. Rabbit Hab is committed to the other side, the side that is bribed and persuaded by a big agro-tech corporation that creates a pesticide that kills rabbit predators on touch, and a fertiliser that can make every beanstalk as big as the one Jack climbed. But every much-vaunted success proves to have a downside, leading to drastic and environmentally unfriendly 'solutions'. Strangely enough, one of the most appealing characters in the books is Rabbit Fud, the front-rabbit for the big corporation, but a rabbit who realises the risks he is running. Unlike Hab, Fud has real foresight, and a firm intention of saving his own skin.
The new generation of rabbits, with their low-slung jeans and bandanas come into conflict with the lapse farmers and the agri-tech cartels. The fable becomes complex, takes unpredictable turns, leading to rebellion, battle, and siege. In the Panchatantra fable of the hungry lion, a wise rabbit defeats the big cat, denying him dinner. In this fable for our times, who is the wisest rabbit and who wins in the end? It's worth reading the book to see.”
– Gillian Wright

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From The Hindu—11 August 2012

“The book is everything the title promises...A fast, exciting, modern-day graphic fable, the book is a richly illustrated story about disaster-prone rabbits. Illustrated by Farooqi’s wife, well- known illustrator and visual artist Michelle Farooqi, the book revolves around self-destructive rabbits who invite endless trouble because of their reckless ways. Alternating seamlessly between intense self-examination and light-hearted humour, Farooqi’s latest manages to tackle crucial and pressing problems with finesse, his grasp easy and effortless...A metaphorical and visual delight, the book is set in an age when a group of rabbits live in happy freedom from their natural predators and are busy violently taming Nature. Rabbit Rap is a tale for our times, a fantasy that presses home the repercussions of steadily disintegrating social structures.”

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From The Sunday Indian—27 August 2012

“When you flip through the pages of Rabbit Rap your initial reaction is - Ah, yet another wonderful book for children. It's only when you start reading it you realise that the looks of books too could be deceptive. 'A fable for the 21st Century' is a serious fictional narration which at the outset looks farcical, only to force you think deeply about human ambition in the from of anthropomorphic rabbits. It's a satirical comedy on modern day human existence and tells a story of hobnobbling for territorial control and power over fellow being, in the disguise of animal demeanour. Satirical comedy is one genre which is gradually diminishing from the contemporary literature. But a riveting narration, an engrossing storyline and well-rounded comical characters can make all the difference, and Rabbit Rap is an example of such a genre well executed...Rabbit Rap instantly reminds one of George Orwell's masterpiece Animal Farm that narrates a tell of revolution plagued by flaws of corruption, intrigues, ignorance and greed whenever there is a change in the government. While the former reflect a society in a given time and space framework, the latter displays general perspectives of today's power play. The traits displayed by Rabbit Rap protagonists cut across territorial boundaries and proves to find its reflection in all species of animal kingdom. The ambitious young pigs of Animal Farm, Snowball and Napoleon, have an equally able parallel in Rabbit Hab and Gran-Bunny-Ma. The difference between the two, however is in narration and the way language is used to express complex animal behaviour and the appeal of universality...Fables are known for their wisdom and Farooqi has employed it amply to deliver his point of view...The book is an interesting tale of human need, greed and power-play that takes the shape of animal expression...Farooqi has delivered an impressive allegory of power-play in modern-day society whose sole ambition is power and dominance.”
– Vijay Soni

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From The Sunday Standard—12 August 2012

“Rabbit Rap has a strong message on environmental change, green politics and organic farming.”

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From DAWN Books and Authors—23 September, 2012

“Rabbit Rap
is a fun, low-brow romp in the hay with impulsive, raucous characters unable to stay out of trouble...The illustrations come from Michelle Farooqi, whose understanding of each rabbit’s personality resonates within the strength of her line drawings. The graphic element in Rabbit Rap adds a great deal of character to the work, guiding the readers’ imagination, rather than taking it over... Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s work is storytelling stripped bare, a contemporary take on folkloric style that removes all excesses, all frills of language that may be needed by a less skillful writer. His language, whether for adults or children, is never complicated, cloying or patronising — it is always perfectly clear and almost alarmingly simple. His main interest lies solidly in the very art of storytelling, no matter what genre he happens to have settled on.”
– Mahvesh Murad

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From Indian Express—01 September, 2012

“Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s latest offering, ostensibly for children but clearly also for older readers, is a gentle critique of modern living and corporate greed. Employing the familiar trope of using animals to provide a commentary on human life, Rabbit Rap has as its central characters that most non-threatening species of all, the bunny. ...More allegory than fairy tale, Rabbit Rap is closer to George Orwell’s Animal Farm than it is to Richard Adams’ Watership Down, although it manages to combine elements of both. Rabbit Hab’s suspicious, dictatorial nature and wholehearted acceptance of technology — even nuclear devices guaranteed to play havoc with crops and fur alike — echoes the hubris of the pre-Fukushima world, and the perils of an ALT lifestyle evokes the dangers of any rapid urbanisation...But the mellow tone, charming prose and subtle humour, all of which is propped up by Michelle Farooqi’s lively illustrations, make sure the message is delivered without any need for preaching, or patronising. And the insanely comical cast of characters, all of whom possess wildly imaginative names, with personalities to match...keeps one diverted throughout.”
– Proteeti Banerjee

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From Mail Today—11 August 2012

“Farooqi's latest, Rabbit Rap, is a satirical fable that explores the issues facing the developing world as it comes to terms with genetic engineering, corporate social responsibility, and the political and social climate in which it thrives. It's a gem of a book. Read it.”
– Charu Soni

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From People magazine—19 Oct 2012

“The novel mainly centres around Rabbit Hab whose modern and scientific approach causes him to clash with the more traditionalist forces in his society. Ostensibly an oddball children's tale, the rabbit world in Musharraf's book also works well as a metaphor for the potentially damaging impact of the commercial-industrial complex.”
- Lakshmi Sankaran

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From LifePositive—September 2012

“The delightful fantasy straddles the young adult and general readership. It is lavishly illustrated, and will appeal to a wide range of readers. Its unusually packaged but strong message on environmental change, green politics, and organic farming in a non-threatening but convincing format will be, hopefully, more effective than the traditional didactic do-or-die approach.”
– Luis S. R. Vas

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From TimeOut Mumbai
—31 August, 2012

“The story reflects our times – the avarice, the corporate control, the uncertainty...There is a sharp wit on display in the wordplay...The well-executed illustrations are fun, and the characters emerge quite clearly.”
– Samina Mishra

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From The Pioneer—29 September 2012

Rabbit Rap presents a radical critique of industrial capitalism, genetic engineering, and exploitative business/political leadership, motivated by monopolistic profit taking. It also features radical resistance to the dominant tropes of capitalistic exploitation through militant mass action, aggressive mobilisation egged on by revolutionary song writing (which is where the title ‘Rabbit Rap’ derives from), and eventually the overthrow of the exploiters by the liberators... The illustrations accompanying the prose, the overall layout, the quirky cover, and the elaborate epigraphs in the manner of 18th century novels such as those by Henry Fielding make for an impressive package...The illustrations are funny and delicate, done in the nonsense rhyme style you’d associate with a fine hand (perhaps even Edward Lear’s!). Honestly, the illustrations and the overall layout, including choice of font, are quite exceptional.
– Debraj Mookerjee

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