The Rabbit House

Laura Alcoba

Published: 6 April 2009
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 160 pages
ISBN: 9781846271335


Laura was seven years old when her parents' political sympathies began to draw the attention of the dictator's regime. Before long, her father was imprisoned and Laura and her mother were forced to leave their apartment in the capital of Buenos Aires to go into hiding in a small, run-down house on the outskirts. This is the rabbit house where the resistance movement is building a secret printing press, and setting up a rabbit farm to conceal their activities. Laura now finds herself living a clandestine existence - crouching beneath a blanket in the car on her way to school, forbidden from talking to friends or neighbours, and only half understanding the conversations she overhears between the adults in the house. Intensely remembered and powerfully portrayed, this is a compelling account of growing up under a dictatorship, depicting a world hedged in by secrecy and the danger of discovery, where bonds of trust are forged and then violently betrayed.

About the author

Image of Laura Alcoba

Born in Argentina in 1968, Laura Alcoba has lived in France since the age of ten. She is now a university lecturer in Paris and this is her first book. More about the author


‘[A] Fascinating story’ Jo Littler



‘[A] short, sharp memoir ... Alcoba recreates a simple, touching child's-eye perspective on the madness of their lives at this time ... she effectively conveys the reverberating shock of a betrayal that still haunts her’ Siobhan Murphy

The Rabbit House is an intimate history woven in tenderly economic prose, evoking at times a raw, threatened humanity’ Hisham Matar

‘A deeply disturbing but beautifully-told story about the loss of innocence. In The Rabbit House, we see Argentina's dirty war for what it really was, a real life nightmare created by adults, glimpsed from the eyes of a terrified child.’ Jon Lee Anderson

‘A moving account of a society in turmoil’ Alex Donohue

‘A moving memoir of one summer in Argentina’ Aminatta Forna

‘A poignant account of dealing with fear at a tender age and learning to live with the consequences. This is the stuff of nightmares and, as a child's-eye view of political terror, it packs a powerful punch’

‘A touching, insightful, painful memoir of childhood during Argentina's darkest days of oppression. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be on the front line of fear and uncertainty.’ Philippe Sands

‘Alcoba's brief, intense volume, translated elegantly by Polly McLean, tells its story of concealment and tragedy with a moving restraint that conveys the fear and danger of those childhood years more sharply than any hyperbole’ Jane Shilling

‘An episode in Argentinean history viewed through the eyes of a child: always a risky endeavour, here succeeds. Laura Alcoba avoids the pitfalls inherent in the genre. She doesn't seek to imitate the language of a child, she writes as an adult with a precise vocabulary and a strong syntax. The child's voice emerges through the economy of the telling, in the subtle mingling of small scenes and attentive descriptions of the tiny entertainments that broke up her solitude.’

‘It's an extraordinary child's eye-view of the horror of a repressive dictatorship.Her guilt, embarrassment, confusion and fear at the half understood and dangerous world of adult politics is wonderfully remembered and expressed.I enjoyed it immensely.’ Anna Ford

‘Laura's terse memoir of this time, told from her point of view as a seven-year-old who understands only the need to keep secrets and nothing of the politics, becomes more a stylised short story, even a fable, of a hidden life and shocking betrayal under a repressive military regime’ Iain Finlayson

‘Makes for moving reading ... Using simple, spare prose, Alcoba successfully conveys the sense of being a child in an adult world she doesn't understand ... A sobering, thoughtful, touching recollection’ Lesley McDowell

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