'It feels like a new generation': Bookshops buzzing with release of new Sally Rooney novel

'It feels like a new generation': Bookshops buzzing with release of new Sally Rooney novel

Ellie Mahony from Bandon at Waterstones, Cork, with her copies of Sally Rooney's third novel, 'Beautiful World, Where Are You'. Picture: Dan Linehan

Anticipation ahead of the release of Sally Rooney's latest offering hit a fever pitch on Tuesday as Beautiful World, Where Are You finally hit the shelves.

The Mayo-born author's third book has received excellent reviews, which only heightened the buzz surrounding its release.

Book shops around the country prepared themselves for a busy day with staff in Waterstones Cork starting their day an hour early to ensure things ran smoothly once the doors opened.

From the off, the store had a steady influx of customers seeking to get their hands on what many consider to be the biggest book of 2021.

The Mayo-born author's third book has received excellent reviews, which only heightened the buzz surrounding its release. Picture: Dan Linehan
The Mayo-born author's third book has received excellent reviews, which only heightened the buzz surrounding its release. Picture: Dan Linehan

Despite Rooney's label as the quintessential Millennial writer, Lilly Keohane, Waterstones Cork commercial manager said people of all ages were eager to see what Rooney had to say in her latest novel.

Some were already familiar with her work while some were curious to see what all the fuss was about.

"She has definitely tapped into something that everyone feels," said Ms Keohane.

I was really excited to see that everyone came in for it. It wasn't just the 'typical Millennial' fanbase. We had everybody in. Men in their 60s were in to get it at 9am."

Rooney herself told the Guardian in a recent interview: “I don’t think of my novels as ‘millennial novels’ any more than I think of them as ‘female novels’."

Book stores welcomed the excitement of the launch day, the first major one since the pandemic hit and in Waterstones Cork,its stock took a big hit in the first day – even outselling the store's branch in Piccadilly, London.

Ms Keohane isn't anticipating the demand will drop off anytime soon, brushing off any thoughts  it might just be a "first-day rush" that will quickly disappear.

The Cork city shop is expecting a huge weekend for sales but staff believe they have enough copies to tide them over until their next delivery.

Rooney's star has been rising steadily since her debut novel Conversations with Friends came out just four years ago. At 26, she was named The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

However, it was her second offering, Normal People, that made the Irish author a household name.

The book was named Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

 Maria Manning at Waterstones, Cork, with copies of 'Beautiful World, Where Are You', which were selling fast. Picture: Dan Linehan
Maria Manning at Waterstones, Cork, with copies of 'Beautiful World, Where Are You', which were selling fast. Picture: Dan Linehan

The novel was then adapted into a critically acclaimed TV series, which enraptured many during the long lockdown in 2020.

Before Normal People had aired in most places, it was announced that Rooney's first novel, Conversations with Friends, will be made into a 12-episode miniseries.

If the new series proves to be a success, it wouldn't be surprising to see Beautiful World, Where Are You on the small screen in a few years.

The book centres on the friendship between two best friends — Alice, a successful author and Eileen, an assistant at a literary magazine, and their respective romantic relationships with Felix, a warehouse worker and Simon, a policy adviser.

Ms Keohane believes fans of the first two Rooney books will not be disappointed.

"It's a great book, I've read it already. It's fabulous to have such a great example of young Irish women writers," she said.

"It feels like a new generation."

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