A little over two years ago, novelist Sally Rooney seemed ready to take a well-deserved victory shot. As a 27-year-old, she had published two best-selling and acclaimed novels, “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People,” which were nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Critics anointed her as “a writer of rare confidence” and “the first great millennial writer.”
Rooney was not so sure about the hype – or her long-term prospects as a novelist. “I have no idea if I’m writing another book,” she told the Irish Independent in 2018. “Maybe I̵
Fortunately for his many devoted readers, Rooney tried it again. In September, Farrar, Straus and Giroux release her new novel “Beautiful World, Where Are You”, which follows four young characters in Ireland as they navigate under pressure from work and conditions amid political unrest and fears of their economic futures.
“The title itself speaks to some of the book’s themes, it’s an unanswered question,” said Mitzi Angel, publisher of FSG. “The characters are considering a world where the future is very uncertain for them – what will working life look like, what will happen to the planet, what is the policy we all live through. I think the stakes are higher. ”
The new novel is likely to be one of this year’s most anticipated books. Rooney’s first two novels have sold more than a million copies in the United States alone.
Angel acquired U.S. rights to the new novel from the Wylie Agency as part of a two-book deal. FSG declined to provide details about the second book.
Rooney was previously released in the United States by Hogarth, a Penguin Random House imprint. When he moved to FSG, a division of Macmillan, Rooney reunited with Angel, who as publisher of Faber & Faber from 2015 to 2018 published Rooney’s first two novels in the UK. Angel acquired Rooney’s books for Faber & Faber after ruling in a seven-way auction.
“Sally and I have a story, and of course I was secretly hoping that I might one day be able to publish her again,” Angel said.
Rooney became a literary sensation with the release of her 2017 debut novel, “Conversations With Friends,” which she wrote while studying for a master’s degree in American literature at Trinity College Dublin.
Told by a trinity student named Frances who struggles with the realities of adulthood, the novel received accolades from prominent writers such as Zadie Smith, Curtis Sittenfeld and Celeste Ng.
Rooney accompanied “Normal People”, a novel about the tortured friendship and romance between Marianne and Connell, who meet as teenagers from different socioeconomic backgrounds and whose social fortunes diverge further when they also end up in Trinity. The novel cemented Rooney’s reputation as a literary talent and was adapted into a TV series. “She’s an original writer who, you see, has just begun,” Dwight Garner wrote in The New York Times.
“Beautiful World, Where Are You” also explores romantic relationships between young adults – but the characters are older and the issues that occupy them are more global and entrenched. Virtually in Dublin and a nearby city, it centers on four characters – a novelist named Alice, her best friend Eileen and their respective love interests, Felix and Simon. In conversations and email exchanges, friends dissect their love lives and their fears for the planet’s future.
“Her books are always political because they’re about how people should figure out how to live together, how we should behave,” Angel said. “These questions are found in the book, and she asks them without seriousness, but with great sincerity.”