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Sally Rooney
Photography Jonny Davies, via Faber

2021 is looking up: Sally Rooney’s new novel is out in September

Titled Beautiful World, Where Are You, the Irish author’s third book is here to save civilisation

Although 2020 was dominated by talk of Normal People – thanks to the hugely successful TV adaptation – it’s actually been three years since Sally Rooney published her inimitable novel of the same name. Now, the Irish author is back, with a new book coming out in September.

Titled Beautiful World, Where Are You, Rooney’s third novel will tell the story of Alice and Eileen, best friends in their late 20s who suddenly find themselves living very different lives. As novelist Alice meets a man called Felix and jets off to Rome with him, Eileen is going through a break-up in Dublin, and begins to flirt with her childhood friend, Simon. Living thousands of miles apart, most of Alice and Eileen’s friendship plays out over email – something which sounds eerily familiar RN.

As described by publisher Faber: “Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?”

Alex Bowler, publisher at Faber, said in a press release: “Sally’s new novel is a book of friendship and sex, art and faith, power and love. It absorbs you once again in the inner lives of characters with brilliant minds and aching hearts, while marking the next creative leap from a singular writer. The book scintillates with intelligence, empathy, and, yes, beauty.”

Beautiful World, Where Are You follows Rooney’s 2018 novel Normal People and her 2017 debut, Conversations With Friends. The TV adaptation of Normal People premiered in April last year, with Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones playing the leads, Connell and Marianne. The team behind the series are now working on an adaptation of Conversations With Friends – though there’s no news on casting or release dates.

Speaking to Dazed in April, Edgar-Jones said of fans’ anticipation ahead of Normal People: “I’m really proud of what we’ve done, but I definitely feel a lot of pressure now. The book is so special and it’s its own thing, and it’s a different thing to the series – I hope people like it.” 

People did like it; so much so that Connell’s chain got its own Instagram account (it later went up for auction), the show returned for two bonus episodes, and Mescal, Rooney, writer Alice Birch, and director Lenny Abrahamson found themselves nominated at the Emmy Awards.

News of Rooney’s third novel has been welcomed by fans, including me, who hereby declares 2021 saved. Roll on September.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is out on September 7 via Faber & Faber