Normal People author Sally Rooney, 30, describes the 'hell of fame'

Normal People author Sally Rooney, 30, describes the ‘hell of fame’ and says it ‘doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone’ – as she prepares to release her third book Beautiful World, Where Are You

  • Sally Rooney, 30, released coming-of-age tale Normal People in 2018
  • Irish author spoken of ‘hell of fame’ – adding ‘it doesn’t seem to work for anyone’
  • She stopped looking on Twitter in a bid to avoid as much coverage as possible

Normal people author Sally Rooney has spoken of the ‘hell of fame’ – adding that ‘it doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone.’

The Irish author, 30, released coming-of-age tale Normal People in 2018, which won the Costa Book Award – of which she was the youngest ever winner – and Irish Novel of the Year, to name a few accolades.

Within weeks of its publication plans were announced for a BBC adaptation. Normal People starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal subsequently became the most watched show on BBC Three ever last year.

It also rocketed the book to top of the bestseller lists in both Ireland and the UK, more than two years after it was published.

However, speaking to The Guardian, Sally has described the downfalls of fame – adding it results in a person ‘enduring variably serious invasions of their privacy from the media, from obsessive fans, and from people motivated by obsessive hatred’.

Normal people author Sally Rooney has spoken of the ‘hell of fame’ – adding that ‘it doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone.’ Pictured, during the Hulu segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour at The Langham Huntington on January 17, 2020 in Pasadena, California

The millennial author, 30, released coming-of-age tale Normal People in 2018, which won the Costa Book Award – of which she was the youngest ever winner – and Irish Novel of the Year, to name a few accolades. Pictured, on 29th January at Costa Book of The Year Award in London

Sally, who eventually stopped posting and looking on Twitter, explained how she tried to avoid as much coverage as possible – and even went so far as to mute her own name.  

However, the author went on to say how her attempts failed, adding that ‘the world does have a way of intruding.’ 

But despite fans of the author approaching her and being ‘almost always’ friendly and pleasant, she says the experience of fame isn’t a good one – and struggles to see a positive way out. 

‘Of course, that person could stop doing whatever it is they’re good at, in order to be allowed to retire from public life, but that seems to me like a big sacrifice on their part and an exercise in cultural self-destruction for the rest of us, forcing talented people either to endure hell or keep their talents to themselves,’ she explained. 

Normal People starring Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal became the most watched show on BBC Three ever last year

‘I don’t think it is graceless for people in those positions to speak out about how poisonous this system is. It doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone, except presumably some shareholders somewhere.’

The millennial author’s follow-up to Conversations With Friends and Normal People, called Beautiful World, Where Are You, is set to be released on September 7. 

The book follows novelist Alice and her best friend Eileen, who are both in their twenties.

Alice meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks to travel to Rome with her. Meanwhile Eileen, reeling from a break-up, resumes flirting with childhood friend Simon. 

The publisher synopsis states: ‘Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. 


Normal People, left, is the second novel by author Sally Rooney after 2017’s Conversations with Friends, pictured right

‘They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?’ 

Similar to Normal People and Conversations With Friends, Alice and Eileen’s friendship plays out largely via email, with the pair exchanging messages about ‘art, friendship, the world around them and the complicated love affairs unfolding in their own lives… They say they want to see each other again soon. But what will happen when they do?’

Faber will publish the book, which is available to pre-order now, in hardback and produce two special editions which will be exclusive to Waterstones and independent bookshops. The US publisher is Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

Rooney penned her 2017 debut novel Conversations With Friends, which follows two college students Frances and Bobbi and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with married couple Melissa and Nick, while studying for her master’s degree in American literature at Trinity College in Dublin.

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