Sally Rooney has been called JD Salinger for the Snapchat generation, but there’s certainly a case to be made for describing her as the ‘Beyoncé of books’.
What other writer can you think of who would break the internet with the simple news that she is set to publish her third novel?
From Entertainment Weekly and Vogue to the New York Times, the breathless announcement of Beautiful World, Where Are You?, due for release later this year, could barely be missed.
Even the announcement itself seemed so very Sally: after the ‘Books of 2021’ lists had been done and dusted, with little fanfare (yet still managed to break the internet all the same).
Rooney’s first two novels, Conversations With Friends and Normal People — both recipients of the big-screen treatment, thanks to Element Pictures — have scarcely been out of the best-seller charts for the last two years.
The hype surrounding Rooney, who turns 30 next month, has been a thing to behold. Even the Kardashians themselves say they are fans. Not that the hype has sat easily with the Mayo-born writer.
“Maybe I am one of those people who writes two novels in their 20s, then never writes anything else again,” she told this newspaper in 2018.
Rooney’s next book certainly sounds… familiar. It follows four young characters in Ireland as they navigate the pressures of work and relationships against the backdrop of political turmoil and fears about their economic futures.
Her American publisher told the New York Times: “[The characters are] contemplating a world in which the future is very uncertain for them — what’s the world of work going to look like, what’s going to happen to the planet, what are the politics we are all living through.”
“They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart,” Faber has written as a teaser. Clearly, Rooney is a fan of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach. What, were you expecting a sci-fi novel?
In spite of her seismic success, there is something about Rooney’s name that seems to spark a sort of secondary-school meanness in other, less successful writers (let’s face it, almost all of them are less successful).
One critic, Martin Ebel, wrote that the hype around her was helped by “promising” photographs where she “looks like a startled deer with sensuous lips”.
‘Why We Can’t Make Up Our Minds About Sally Rooney’, a headline on ElectricLiterature.com shrieks, as though she is a mystery that demands to be deconstructed.
In light of this week’s announcement, several online commentators cut through the air of jubilation with their own take on the news.
“I just don’t like her. There, I said it,” they fumed, thinking that they were somehow being radical and giving basic b*tches everywhere one in the eye.
Here’s the thing. Snarking on Sally Rooney is predictable, yet completely, embarrassingly dull. And it probably says a lot more about your attitude to young women, and in particular successful, attractive young women, than it does your literary predilections.
Even if she writes about a bunch of twenty-something Trinity graduates a hundred times over, Rooney’s astute, humanising perceptions, deceptive simplicity and oft-imitated literary voice can’t really be disputed.
There’s an intimacy and a vulnerability in Rooney’s writing, and if you don’t like it, that’s fine. But hating on a writer for doing exactly what a writer is meant to do is daft.
Perhaps Rooney’s tender years make her a target for this type of dismissal. People mention her ‘rickety similes’ or her solipsistic characters, and how she might be a precocious and overindulged talent.
All of it smacks of weapons-grade envy. Her books have earned her well in excess of €8m. It’s safe to assume she is doing something right, whether you like it or not.
Laura Whitmore is certainly hitting a purple patch in life: in addition to recently getting married and announcing her pregnancy, her career appears to be in rude health these days too.
After hosting Love Island — one of TV’s most lucrative gigs — at the beginning of the year, the Bray native has been her bankability soar in the last 12 months. As of this week, it appears she is ‘officially’ a millionaire.
Yer Wan Limited has £1,383,135 (€1.55m) in current assets, including £983,764 (€1.1m) in cash. The new accounts also show that the firm accumulated profits of £1,191,318 (€1.335m) last year.
All told, it’s not bad for a woman who kickstarted her broadcasting career as the winner of an MTV competition, which saw her read bulletins on the music channel.
It’s easy to see just how Whitmore (35) has cut loose from the typical MTV-babe pack and reached a fairly exalted position within TV’s pecking order. She appears to be a natural and canny broadcaster.
When her friend Caroline Flack died last year, Whitmore also showed a very human side when she delivered an emotional tribute on her BBC Radio 5 show. And so it goes on social media, where her relatability has seen her rack up 1.3 million followers on Instagram alone.
Professionalism and simply being herself: a combo that will see Whitmore go a long way.
Thousands of would-be writers tuned into the masterclass offered by novelist Marian Keyes this week. The bestselling writer is offering a free novel writing class on Instagram live, in which she goes over topics like plot, character, motivation and The Fear.
It’s another instance of a celebrity using their privilege in a brilliant way during the pandemic. If you’re going to take the plunge and try your hand at becoming the next Sally Rooney — and really, who doesn’t want that? — learn the ropes from one of the best in the field.