Normal People: A Novel (Paperback)
May 2019 Indie Next List
“What a treat to discover Sally Rooney! This novel stands out shining from the current onslaught of mediocre prose and less-than-suspenseful thriller plots. Normal People is the story of a relationship between two high school classmates in a small town in Ireland, and how it changes over time, through their last year of college in Dublin. Rooney’s spare and brilliant writing illuminates her insight and makes the unfolding of these two personalities completely compelling.”
— Georgiana Dix Blomberg, Magnolia's Bookstore, Seattle, WA
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • COMING TO HULU IN 2020 • SALLY ROONEY NAMED TO THE 2019 TIME 100 NEXT LIST
“A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from the author of Conversations with Friends, “a master of the literary page-turner” (J. Courtney Sullivan).
NAMED ONE OF ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Entertainment Weekly • People • The New York Public Library • Slate • Harvard Crimson AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Dwight Garner, The New York Times • The New York TImes Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • Time • NPR • The Washington Post • Vogue • Esquire • Glamour • Elle • Marie Claire • Vox • The Paris Review • Good Housekeeping • Town & Country • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • BookRiot
“Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heartbreaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves.”—Stephanie Danler
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.
A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.
Praise for Normal People
“[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting.”—The Washington Post
“Arguably the buzziest novel of the season, Sally Rooney’s elegant sophomore effort . . . is a worthy successor to Conversations with Friends. Here, again, she unflinchingly explores class dynamics and young love with wit and nuance.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism. . . . [She writes] some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”—The New Yorker
About the Author
Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, she is the author of Conversations with Friends. In 2019, she was named to the inaugural Time 100 Next list.
Advance praise for Normal People:
“[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism...One of the unusual pleasures of Rooney’s novels is watching young women engage in a casual intellectual hooliganism, demolishing every mediocrity that crosses their paths, just for the fun of it… in the process creating some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”—The New Yorker
“I’m transfixed by the way Rooney works, and I’m hardly the only one… like any confident couturier, she’s slicing the free flow of words into the perfect shape… She writes about tricky commonplace things (text messages, sex) with a familiarity no one else has.”—The Paris Review
"...This superb book more than lives up to the high expectations set for it by Rooney's lauded first novel...Showcasing Rooney's focus and ability in building characterrelationships that are as subtle and infinite as real-life ones, and her perceptive portrayal of class, Normal People gets at the hard work of becoming a person and the near impossibility of knowing if a first love is a true one."—Booklist (starred)
"I went into a tunnel with this book and didn’t want to come out. Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heart-breaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves. Young love is a subject of much scorn, but Rooney understands the cataclysmic effects our youth has on the people we become. She has restored not only love’s dignity, but also its significance."—Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
“Sally Rooney's Normal People is the deeply felt story of a foundational relationship at the margin of friendship and true love, of shame and devotion. This inventive and profound novel proves what great fiction can do--it can open a world at the seams.”—Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers
“I couldn’t put Normal People down—I didn’t think I could love it as much as Conversations with Friends, but I did. Sally Rooney is a treasure. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and The Possessed
“This is one the best novels I have read in years. Sally Rooney understands the complexities of love, its radical intimacy, and how power is always shifting between people, and she tells her story in a way that feels new and old at the same time. It is intelligent, spare and mesmerizing, and it sent me back to an earlier point in my life in such a vivid and real way, reanimating for me with that period of time (first love), which I had thought was lost to me forever, but which felt born again in the form of this book.” —Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?
"Sally Rooney is a master of the literary page-turner. In Normal People, she has once again crafted a complicated love story that's impossible to put down. It's also full of wise observations about class, gender roles and how the past shapes the present. Rooney's novels are populated with characters and situations that feel at once totally familiar and like something we've never seen in fiction before."—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions
"It is time to take a sharp inhale, people. After the success of Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney has produced a second novel, Normal People which will be just as successful as it deserves to be: it is superb...[T]he truth is that this novel is about human connection and I found it difficult to disconnect. It is a long time since I cared so much about two characters on a page."—Anne Enright, The Irish Times
“Rooney homes in on what she’s best at – describing people, with all their conceits and self-delusions, weaknesses and virtues. She does this with unsparing acuity and extraordinary sensitivity… There’s arch humor in her insights too.” —The Times (UK)
“Beautifully observed and profoundly moving, I could scale new heights of hyperbole trying to describe how good this book is, but really, you just need to read it.” —The Bookseller (UK)
Praise for Conversations with Friends:
“A writer of rare confidence, with a lucid, exacting style… [O]ne wonderful aspect of Rooney’s consistently wonderful novel is the fierce clarity with which she examines the self-delusion that so often festers alongside presumed self-knowledge… But Rooney’s natural power is as a psychological portraitist. She is acute and sophisticated about the workings of innocence; the protagonist of this novel about growing up has no idea just how much of it she has left to do.”
– The New Yorker
“Rooney has the gift of imbuing everyday life with a sense of high stakes…a novel of delicious frictions.”
– New York Magazine
“I love debuts where you just can’t believe that it was a debut… Conversations with Friends paints a nuanced, page-turning portrait of a whip-smart university student in the throes of an affair with an older married man.”
– Zadie Smith, Elle
“The dialogue is superb, as are the insights about communicating in the age of electronic devices. Rooney has a magical ability to write scenes of such verisimilitude that even when little happens they’re suspenseful.”
– Curtis Sittenfeld, The Week
“Sharp, funny, thought-provoking . . . a really great portrait of two young women as they’re figuring out how to be adults.”
– Celeste Ng, "Late Night with Seth Meyers Podcast"
“This book. This book. I read it in one day. I hear I'm not alone.”
– Sarah Jessica Parker (Instagram)
“The self-deceptions of a new generation are at the core of Sally Rooney’s debut, Conversations With Friends (Hogarth), which captures something wonderfully odd-cornered and real in the story of an Irish millennial…”
– Megan O'Grady, Vogue's 10 Best Books of 2017
"[A] bracing, miraculous debut."
– The Millions