It has been one of the most hyped book launches on the literary calendar, with fans desperate to get their hands on a copy of Sally Rooney’s highly anticipated third novel.
Following the dizzying success of her first two critically acclaimed books, Beautiful World, Where Are You is already the number one bestseller on Amazon. Waterstones said there were not only requests for Rooney’s latest novel, Normal People, but it was the largest request for fiction in its history.
Reviews of the book, which follows a successful Irish writer, her friend and her lovers, range from praise to the most skeptical. While the Financial times called him Rooney’s “strongest writing yet”, the Times said that despite having all the elements that made Rooney such a sensation, it lacks depth and complexity of feeling. Yet people have been desperate to get it, so much so that uncorrected test copies were selling online for hundreds of dollars.
At a sold-out launch and signing at Waterstones Piccadilly on a sultry Monday night, a queue of 150 people snaked through the front of the store as fans waited in 28 ° C to be the first in the world to buy the book and meet the author. herself.
“I just love her, I love her style and she really has her finger on the pulse,” said Judith Wilson, who was eager to tell Rooney about her own two novels she’s trying to get published. “I just wanted to see her in person. Ever since I read your first two novels, I’ve been hungry for more. “
As a sign of the times, not everyone who got a ticket was able to attend. “I’m here for my sister, Lisa,” said Chris, who had come, briefcase in hand, straight from work. “She is a huge fan of normal people, the TV show and the book, but unfortunately she couldn’t be here because she isolates herself, so I came for her.” He and other attendees covered their faces as they entered the building and headed for the first floor.
In addition to the Piccadilly store being open late for the launch event, 50 booksellers from across the country will open their doors early Tuesday morning to meet expected demand. Euan of the Portobello Bookstore, which opens early, said that since the final pages of Normal People 2018 finished, many readers had been eagerly awaiting Rooney’s next novel. Helena of Warwick Books, which also opened early, called it “the novel of the moment.”
The publisher, Faber, runs a pop-up store in Shoreditch from September 10-12 so people can get a copy of the novel, as well as Rooney’s previous work and a selection of his recommended readings.
While there was a massive marketing campaign in preparation for its release, Bea Carvalho, a buyer for fiction at Waterstones, said the book was a cultural moment in its own right. “It’s rare that a book launch has such a broad cultural awareness and such a large cultural impact. But that speaks of [Rooney’s] appeal; attracts people who will read one book a year, as well as those who will always read every book on Booker’s list. “She added,” She nails what it’s like to be young today, but she also plays on our nostalgia, so that appeals to all ages. “
This was reflected in the demographic diversity in the queue. Mom and daughter, Mandy and Ana, were big fans of Rooney’s “amazing characters” and how close the books felt to real life, something repeated by Lily, 24, who said it connected more with realism. of Rooney’s writing. “She is one of my favorite authors, so I had to come. I love his style, it’s like real life. It’s like seeing yourself in a book. It’s not romanticized, it just is what it is. “
Tom Curran, 30, was equally excited: “He does a good job getting into his head and describing what life is like at a certain age.”
Watching fans meet Rooney, the excitement grew, some even yelling as they walked away with their signed copies. The store’s last book launch was for Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & Light, the third installment in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which took place more than a year ago, just before the first closing, Carvalho said. “The pandemic, in some way, has been reserved by this event for such a special book. It’s wonderful to have people in bookstores again. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism