Salinger For Influencers: Who Is Sally Rooney And Why All Instagram Is Talking About Her

Salinger For Influencers: Who Is Sally Rooney And Why All Instagram Is Talking About Her
Salinger For Influencers: Who Is Sally Rooney And Why All Instagram Is Talking About Her
Video: Salinger For Influencers: Who Is Sally Rooney And Why All Instagram Is Talking About Her
Video: what sally rooney's spotify playlists say about her new novel 2023, February

SALLY ROONEY - YOUNG IRISH WRITER and a literary phenomenon of the past two years, "Salinger for the Snapchat Generation," as the press calls it. In 2017, she made her successful debut with the novel "Conversations With Friends", and just a year later, Rooney published her second book, "Normal People" - she was longlisted for the Booker Prize more before its official publication and has been nominated and awarded several literary prizes. This year, both of the writer's books will be published in Russian - we tell you why they are so praised.

TEXT: Dina Klyuchareva

Rooney's first book was published when the writer was twenty-six years old - so her popularity is often compared to the success of Zadie Smith, another child prodigy from the world of literature. Smith was twenty-five when her debut novel, White Teeth, made a splash among publishers and readers alike, collecting a host of awards, including the prestigious Whitbread Award (now known as the Costa Prize). Rooney's first novel had the same fate: seven publishers were fighting for the rights to publish it at auction.

After the book was praised by Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski and Sarah-Jessica Parker, the recognizable yellow cover of "Conversations With Friends" with an illustration of the legendary artist Alex Katz began to flicker endlessly on Instagram influencers, as well as in the collections of the main books of the year from glossy magazines and, of course, "Win-win gifts for her." This has its own irony: raised in a family with socialist views, Sally Rooney does not hide contempt for the consumer society, whose insatiable appetites promote the use of low-paid labor, and the people who travel for cheap products of this labor in machines, polluting the environment. “I love walking and was shocked when my boyfriend sent photos from his homeland, from a city where there are no sidewalks,” the writer shares her feelings.

"Conversations With Friends" is the story of Frances, a young bisexual student, and the love polygon she finds herself in. Francis writes and reads poetry in public with his ex-girlfriend, an aggressive hottie and feminist named Bobby. At one of the performances, the girls meet an adult couple - a writer named Melissa and her husband-actor Nick - and make friends with them, which later turns into betrayal, quarrels and long emotional correspondence on the Internet. At some point, Francis has a crisis: friends find out about her affair with one of the spouses and condemn her, her father refuses financial support, health problems worsen, the internship is not extended. Real life literally flies head-on to the heroine, and by the end of the book she draws a conclusion, to which, it seems, sooner or later everyone comes: sometimes, in order to understand something, you first have to experience it.

Correspondence is important

in Rooney's novels.

Moreover, she

does not turn

into boring screenshots from other people's messengers in the spirit of "neurotic intellectuals are clever in chat"

Despite comparisons to Salinger, Rooney's laconic, but attentive to detail, manner of storytelling is much closer to Michael Cunningham, and in some particularly violent moments, Hanya Yanagihara comes to mind with her merciless "Little Life". Rooney writes without reflection and embellishment and does not evaluate her characters and their actions, and this is perhaps one of the most attractive qualities of her novels, which tell about the life of millennials - the most educated generation in the history of mankind, which at the same time is endlessly condemned for its immaturity and ridicule at the need to document life on the Internet.

The 2010s can be safely called the era of the epistolary genre: endless correspondence in the digital space occupies half of our lives - and an important place in both Rooney novels. At the same time, they do not turn into boring screenshots from other people's messengers in the spirit of "neurotic intellectuals are clever in chat". The writer accurately notices the subtleties of online communication, but does not overwhelm the novel with them. So, Francis in "Conversation With Friends", flirting in correspondence, carefully withstands an hour before answering a letter in order to torment the addressee with anticipation - and who among us did not do that? When she receives an answer, she notes with relief that the text in the letter, as usual, is written only in lowercase letters: "Suddenly entering capital letters at such a tense moment would be too dramatic."

An even greater credit of confidence and success awaited Rooney's second book. "Normal People" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in July 2018, even though it didn't hit the shelves in the UK and Ireland until two months later. Booksellers in the United States had to fight off persistent customers for six months, who tortured them with questions about when the book will appear on the territory of the United States (it was officially released only last week). “I usually buy new novels for thirty copies, but Normal People has ordered three hundred and I’m already afraid that they will not be enough. People love Sally Rooney,”says one of them. A spokesman for the British book chain Hatchards said that "Normal People" was the first book in the history of the network, which is bought by several copies in one hand - it causes so much emotion that people are eager to share it with friends.

Rooney is good at capturing the feeling of youth - living with the conviction that the best is yet to come and that your real potential is still

not disclosed

The novel won the Costa Prize in January this year, and in March it was longlisted for the prestigious Orange Awards, which are awarded to women of all nationalities for a work written in English and published in the UK. The BBC has already bought the rights to film "Normal People" as a miniseries: Lenny Abrahamson, who directed the films "Room" and "Frank," will be directed by Rooney herself.

The heroes of the drama "Normal People" are high school students Connell and Marianne. He is a school boy and a star of the football team, she is a diligent student and hermit. Connel's mother works as a janitor at Marianne's mother's house, and at first a union of their children from such different social circles seems unlikely. However, Connell and Marianne are attracted to each other and experience the first intimacy and tender feelings - until, on the eve of graduation, Connell makes a stupid mistake. A few months later, both go to Trinity College Dublin and reappear in each other's lives - but this time they switch places: Marianne flourishes among wealthy intellectuals, and Connell closes in, feeling out of place. Either moving away, then coming closer again, they remain in each other's orbit for many years, experience ties and breaks with others, family dramas and crises of self-determination in an attempt to understand how conditional "normal people" behave with even predictable relationships without eternal drama and misunderstandings …

In Normal People, Rooney seamlessly and seamlessly switches between the points of view of his two characters and uses a discontinuous timeline: each chapter is one private episode from the life of Connel and Marianne, which happens several months after the previous one. The writer admits that she borrowed this technique from her friend, the writer Sheila Kheti: “I read her book and thought: was it possible ?! Just take and omit all the boring moments and write only about the cool? Oh my God, I can just not waste time on all these strings and couplings and make everything interesting."

Rooney's heroes define their value through love and sex, the ability to feel and be kind

or cruel

in relation to those who are not indifferent to them

Perhaps the label on Rooney's books "for and about millennials" is a good move to increase sales among the most active generation from a buying point of view, but at the same time, there is something offensive when the author's level is determined by his belonging to some age or social layer, belittling literary merits. Rooney is good at capturing the feeling of youth - living with the conviction that the best is yet to come and that your true potential has not yet been revealed. Perhaps this is the main reason for the popularity of her books.

The heroes of "Conversations With Friends" and "Normal People" are people who live in our new reality: be they twenty or thirty years old, they still do not know who they want to be when they grow up. They do not care at all about the once-obligatory program in the form of buying their own home, marriage and stable work. They define their value through love and sex, the ability to feel and be kind or cruel towards those they care about. “I am very worried about gender issues,” says the writer, “because the nuances of characters are best manifested when sexual tension builds up between the characters. The drama heats up by itself - a minimal effort is enough, and the stage just sparks and rings."

Rooney admits that her sudden popularity unsettles her and that it affects her writing performance. “I write at a different pace. Sometimes he finds me and I can write around the clock - I forget to wash, I’m late for meetings. Or I may not write - when the desire to start a line does not arise for months. I sit down at my computer and think, "Here I am, Sally Rooney, and now I am going to write a book that Sally Rooney would write." This is so strange. I'm working on something right now. Perhaps it will be a book. Or not. I would like to be more useful to the world than to write quickly fascinating books, but it turns out that I am good at only that. " Nevertheless, two iconic books in two years, marked by both readers and prestigious awards, are a good sign and a clear signal that Rooney's work should be watched with great attention.

COVER: festivalofwritingandideas


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