I Have a Crush on Sally Rooney

And I mean, if you’ve read her work and you haven’t developed a crush, I recon there’s something wrong with you.

Sally is Irish and both her novels are set in her home country. Her writing explores relationships and how different factors in life affect these, such as age, sexuality, social status and political views. At first they seem like common enough things to write about, but following her characters in the setting of Ireland makes it far more raw. The financial crash of 2008 hit Ireland hard and it was only last year that abortion was finally legalised and the Constitution of Ireland amended.

I’m sad to say I was late to the Sally Rooney party. She officially has two novels: Conversations with Friends (published 2017) and Normal People (published 2018) and, after finishing her first, I sincerely wonder if I would’ve seen the world differently had I read it two years ago. Maybe certain books find you when they’re meant to?

In 2008 when Ireland’s economy was in ruins, I was 15 and probably not paying a lot of attention to world news. I knew Australia was in a drought (weren’t we always?) but that was about it.

After I finished reading Conversations with Friends I was in awe. I wanted more. In anticipation of finishing, I ordered Normal People from Book Depository to fuel my Sally Rooney cravings. But it didn’t arrive for weeks, so I read her short story– Mr. Salary. It alleviated my symptoms somewhat but it wasn’t enough, so I turned to YouTube.

Being an aspiring author myself, I sometimes get a little obsessed with authors and scriptwriters. If you looked at my recent YouTube searches it would read:

  • BAFTA Screenwriters lecture
  • Elizabeth Lail audition (these are great)
  • Chuck Palahniuk interview
  • Margot Robbie (low key obsessed)
  • Gillian Flynn Interview
  • Miley Cyrus slide away (poor Liam)
  • How to write a short story
  • How to burpee properly

Side note: I wonder what that says about me?

Naturally I added Sally Rooney to my list of people-doing-cool-shit to stalk. She did an amaaaaazzzzing interview with the London Review Bookshop which I absolutely devoured. Every. Last. Word. Honestly she is God if there ever was one. Since half the time I’m writing I never know how the fuck I should be doing it, I get off on learning how those who are successful do it. Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) would go down into her basement and write for hours on end, fuelled by endless cups of coffee. Whereas J.K Rowling would go The Elephant House coffee shop to write or the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, where she completed the series. Fun fact: I partied with a girl recently who used to serve J.K Rowling (obviously the highlight of my night).

I have a few Irish friends at work and they’ve seen me reading Sally Rooney’s books, so naturally I pitched it to them.

I said: You’re Irish, do you know Sally Rooney?

No. Do you know every Australian?

Uhhh… *Damn the Irish are savage*

Who is she then?

Oh! Well she’s a famous author. She’s SO good. OMG. Plus she’s a communist too!!

This was followed by “Oh yeah?” while one continued reading her novel on ‘protesting like a Buddhist’ and the other explained she doesn’t read.

A few days ago, while reading Normal People on my lunch break, I looked up. Everyone was sitting around on their phones, not talking.

I’m reading about teenagers having sex, I exclaimed. My peers burst into laughter and began to ask loads of questions about my book.

Maybe the old adage is true– sex sells. Either way, I think it should be compulsory for everyone to read Sally Rooney.