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An Irish Problem

Sally Rooney, 24 May 2018

... In​ 1983, a referendum was held in Ireland to establish a constitutional right to life for embryos and foetuses. Abortion was not legal in Ireland at the time; it never has been. The referendum was the result of a campaign by conservative religious groups aimed at preventing any future legislation permitting abortion in any but the most extreme, life-threatening circumstances ...

Get a Lobotomy

Sally Rooney: ‘Motherhood’, 30 August 2018

by Sheila Heti.
Harvill Secker, 277 pp., £16.99, May 2018, 978 1 84655 837 5
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... On​ a recent episode of an Irish talk show, a guest celebrated her 90th birthday accompanied by her 19 children. The children, now mostly in their fifties and sixties, occupied the whole front row of the audience. Other (male) guests on the show came forward to shake her hand; the Irish Mirror described her as ‘inspirational’. She seemed like a nice woman and a loving mother, but strangers don’t spring from their seats to congratulate loving mothers of one or two children ...

The First Time

Adam Mars-Jones: Sally Rooney, 27 September 2018

Normal People 
by Sally Rooney.
Faber, 266 pp., £14.99, August 2018, 978 0 571 33464 3
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Conversations with Friends 
by Sally Rooney.
Faber, 321 pp., £8.99, March 2018, 978 0 571 33313 4
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... The blandness​ of Sally Rooney’s novels, last year’s Conversations with Friends and her new one, Normal People, begins and ends with those oddly non-committal titles. Inside the books her territory is classic – the love relationships of young people – but mapped with an unusual scrupulous smoothness ...

I couldn’t live normally

Christian Lorentzen: What Sally did next, 23 September 2021

Beautiful World, Where Are You 
by Sally Rooney.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, September, 978 0 571 36542 5
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... SallyRooney’s emergence in recent years as the avatar of literary success and its online scapegoat is not unrelated to the content of her novels. Normal People begins with its protagonists, Marianne and Connell, comparing their grades at secondary school and ends with Connell getting onto a graduate creative writing programme ...

Do you wish to continue?

Edmund Gordon: ‘Homesickness’, 4 August 2022

by Colin Barrett.
Cape, 213 pp., £14.99, March, 978 1 78733 381 9
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... nightclub hook-up or kebab shop battering. It’s a far cry from the milieu that interests Sally Rooney, who grew up in Castlebar, just twenty miles down the road from Ballina, where Barrett went to school (he lived in a village halfway between the two towns). When a character in one of the stories says his daughter is ‘off to Trinity’, it’s ...

China’s Millennials

Yun Sheng: Hipsters in Beijing, 10 October 2019

... luxury brands as Chanel, whose showy logo is considered too ‘mature’. And they’re reading Sally Rooney. Chinese millennials are a product of globalisation. Like their Western counterparts, they don’t much like traditional marriage arrangements. We have smartphones to keep us in touch with our friends, single millennials might say, unlimited ...

Always Somewhere Else

Blake Morrison: Anuk Arudpragasam, 4 November 2021

A Passage North 
by Anuk Arudpragasam.
Granta, 290 pp., £14.99, July, 978 1 78378 694 7
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... of what they want and how to conduct relationships; they wouldn’t be entirely out of place in a Sally Rooney novel. The women are stronger: more grounded, less vulnerable. Krishan’s relationship with Anjum fails, in part, because her work as an activist matters to her more than he does. Where he’s aimless and lovelorn, she has conviction and ...

Ha ha! Ha ha!

Lauren Oyler: Jia Tolentino, 23 January 2020

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion 
by Jia Tolentino.
Fourth Estate, 303 pp., £14.99, August 2019, 978 0 00 829492 2
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... of them that leads to much of the confusion she says she feels. (Several authors, including Sally Rooney, Garth Greenwell and Kristen Roupenian, have used BDSM to dramatise such shifting power relations in recent fiction.) In many understandings of BDSM, if all goes well, the sub has some power. After dictating their safe words and limits, they ...

Fergie Time

David Runciman: Sir Alex Speaks (again), 9 January 2014

My Autobiography 
by Alex Ferguson.
Hodder, 402 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 340 91939 2
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... few capable of raising a smile, he describes the moment he tried to seal the purchase of Wayne Rooney from Everton in 2004. He was in his office, and the Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, was weeping copiously. Through his tears Kenwright makes a phone call and hands the receiver to Ferguson. On the other end an elderly female voice berates him: ‘Don’t ...

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