Nostalgic News: Normal People by Sally Rooney Turns 5!


A contemporary classic, Normal People was published five years ago in August of 2018 as the second novel by Irish novelist Sally Rooney. It quickly took the world by storm having now sold more than one million copies worldwide in 46 different languages on top of the creation of the award-winning television series of the same name. The novel follows Marianne and Connell as they navigate their youth through their tumultuous home lives, complex friendships and ultimately their erratic relationship. We begin in a small village in County Sligo and follow the pair as they move to Trinity College Dublin and then travel to northern Italy. Normal People is a reflection on modern-day romance, familial relationships, contemporary social circles, and the trials of the university experience as well as featuring an acute commentary on the country of Ireland almost as if it were a character itself. Five years later, the novel has won the Costa Book Award in 2018 and the British Book Award in 2019 as well as being nominated for both the Man Booker Awards and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Via The New Yorker

I first read Normal People whilst visiting family in Galway and simply devoured it. I finished it within two days and immediately ran to the bookstore to buy another of Rooney’s novels as I couldn’t wait to read more. Her writing style is incredibly unique to the genre in which she belongs. She relentlessly focuses on flawed characters within her narratives and the multitude of mistakes they all subsequently make in their careers, relationships and friendships. It could easily be suggested that the hype surrounding Rooney within younger demographics is a direct response to these characters. To constantly be presented with 20-something-year-olds who consistently don’t have their lives together is refreshing in a world of overly perfected social media posts.

“Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.”
In April 2020, the novel was adapted into an incredibly popular television series on BBC Three with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell. The 12 part-series is incredibly faithful to the original narrative and consequently was nominated for four primetime Emmy Awards.
This novel has had a huge cultural impact within contemporary literary culture, especially after the advent of ‘booktok’ on TikTok and the effect it has had on the culture and popularity of reading amongst younger groups. With its touching critique of relationships, its focus on contemporary Ireland and the effects of our own capitalist society it is no wonder it has had such an impact on our generation.

Watch the trailer for Normal People here, via BBC Three:


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