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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2018 Booker Longlist: Normal People

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Normal People, by Sally Rooney

message 2: by Roland (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 66 comments Does anybody know if Faber will move the publication date forward with this one? As always with the books out late and shortly before (or even after - I remember David Nicholls - the shortlist announcement, it is a bit disappointing, as the motivation to read it somehow sinks. Especially, if not shortlisted...

message 3: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments UK date is now 30 August

message 4: by Roland (new)

Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 66 comments Neil wrote: "UK date is now 30 August"

Thanks Neil! That is what also states as available date. But that was the original date anyway, or am I mistaken?

message 5: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
Waterstones were quoting August 30 last Tuesday when I placed my order. I will post an update when I hear it is available to collect.

message 6: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments I think when I first looked, the date was September but before the short list announcement. So it has not changed much, if at all (I may be misremembering).

Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments I managed to get hold of a proof copy a while back - totally baffled at its inclusion and the number of good reviews so far. It's not bad, obviously - the prose is as easy to read as CWF - but it's nowhere near as ambitious or interesting as the other selections.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Dorithea. By background Rooney is a competitive debater (at one stage the best in Europe she has said) and her debut novel both draws (in my view unsuccessfully) on some off the ideas she clearly debated, and features two central characters who take part in gladiatoral style spoken poetry competitions.

Do either feature in this book.

It would make for an interesting compare/contrast with the Grime battle which is one of the set pieces in another longlisted book.

Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments Not as far as I remember! The conversations weren't the most memorable parts of Conversations with Friends, either. But in the new one, there's the same slightly competitive dynamic between the central characters. There's a lot of smart cultural references (such as James Baldwin and other writers), though this isn't woven into the fabric of the book - the references create a certain atmosphere, rather than create parallel lines. I thought that aspect of the novel - similar to CWF - worked better here - smart sixth formers *would* define themselves through their cultural consumption.

Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments Oh, and as for comparisons with Our Mad and Furious...would have been interesting to compare set pieces, for sure! There aren't any though. There weren't any spoken word set pieces in CWF, were there? I have a huge amount of respect for Gunaratne for writing those bars for the bus battle scene!

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Yes correct we only read about the competitions in CWF, we do witness them.

message 12: by Neil (last edited Aug 06, 2018 09:28AM) (new)

Neil | 1885 comments The latest issue of Granta magazine has a short piece by Rooney entitled Normal People. I can only assume it is an excerpt from the book. I'd agree with Dorothea based on this short sample - it's OK but nothing to get excited about. It seemed rather cliched to me. It's a piece essentially about the balance of power in a relationship between a boy and girl (the whole issue is about "gender and power").

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Might be worth trying CWF Neil given you have two weeks of Booker desert otherwise.

message 14: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments Maybe, but I do have two books from NetGalley, an issue of Granta and a book my son has lent me...

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Ok so that’s what you are reading tomorrow (given your speed on the longlist) but what about Wednesday?

message 16: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments I am going to visit my mother-in-law in Guernsey - I think reading speed will slow down for a few days.

message 17: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments That said, there's a copy of CWF on the shelf at my local library, apparently. So maybe it can come to Guernsey with me. One of the NetGalley books isn't published until next Spring, so no real pressure to get to it.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments I would suggest reading it. It might be nice to have a conversation on this thread about Rooney and her writing for the next couple of weeks ahead of NP.

To kick it off one thing I found interesting about CWF was how the Irish setting or nationality of the characters seemed almost of no consequence. For most of the recent great Irish fiction I can think of - Solar Bones, Glorious Heresies and follow up, A Girl Is a Half Formed Thing, Milkman, (most of) From a Low and Quiet Sea it has seemed an important part. Even Sebastian Barry was writing partly about how the Irish character and background shaped the Indian and US civil wars. CWF could have been set I think in London or New York with local characters and no real change. But it’s some time since I read it so I may have a wrong recollection.

message 19: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments According to The Times today, it will be the best book published this year:

message 20: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments The article includes this little nugget:

"Normal People has been longlisted for the Booker prize. Whatever."


Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments Seeing that preview in The Times did want to make me re-read it actually. There’s a subtlety to the writing he quotes that’s maybe easy to miss because of the ostensibly quotidian plot/setting. I don’t think I totally appreciated it at the time of reading it.

Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments I reiterate it would be unfair for this to win given the relative ambition - in terms of subject - on show in the longlist but there’s a good chance it probably will.

message 23: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments Granta Magazine have an extract if anyone wants an advanced taster

message 24: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Thanks for that, Paul. I have read it - seems YA to me.

message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments Yes it doesn't exactly inspire (and The Times review didn't either as didn't seem a reviewer who liked Booker type books). Although given we criticised about another author's Twitter reaction when he saw her on the list, guess we should wait for the whole book before writing her off.

message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments (of course he didn't read a word of the book, I wasn't equating the reactions)

message 27: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments I have also read it and I didn’t see much difference from Conversations With Friends, although that’s hard to judge from a single chapter.

message 28: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments I'm some way down a library queue for this book, and had been kind of hoping that a) the book wouldn't be on the shortlist and b) I wouldn't get to the top of the queue before the shortlist announcement. It's obviously a bit strange to have a book on hold anyway when it's accompanied by those thoughts. But given I had no inclination to read this extract for more than two minutes, I should actually remove myself from the queue.

message 29: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Ang wrote: "Thanks for that, Paul. I have read it - seems YA to me."

Those were my exact thoughts.

message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments Neil it does look rather like CWF. When I saw she had been Booker listed my presumption was she must have written something different but seems the instinctive reaction of "really?" was correct.

message 31: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1885 comments My issue with CWF was personal, really - I didn't like the writing style, but I can quite see that others would like it and would therefore think the book is good or even great. I assume at least some of the Booker judges must be on that side of the argument.

I'm trying to keep an open mind on Normal People and to give it a fair chance when I read it in a couple of weeks.

message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura (lauratheditz) | 59 comments Just checked iBooks- the digital release date is the 28th, two days earlier than the physical publication. Just thought I'd drop this in here if anyone wants to start this book a little earlier!

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Thanks Laura. Good spot. I think there are a number of us waiting on this to complete the long list and that's two days less to wait.

message 34: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
I have been catching up with Conversations With Friends this week, and I am now really looking forward to reading this one. I am hoping the advance order will be available to collect in the next few days, but the bank holiday may get in the way.

message 35: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool I’m cautiously optimistic, too, Hugh.
I read Conversations With Friends last year and while it wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, the writing style certainly encouraged a second visit to Sally Rooney.
She is a prolific broadcaster, and never short of an opinion.

message 36: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments The book is also set to become a TV series.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Very positive review from Olivia Laing in today’s New Statesman.

I saw a lot of positives in Conversations With Friends (and quite a bit that didn’t quite work) so I have high hopes for this.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments A judge on the Republic of Consciousness Prize this year.

message 39: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pool Indeed- I knew you would be aware of the fact!!!!

Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments Every time I see Normal People quoted In a review or preview I think ‘wow, that is wonderfully astute writing’, yet I wasn’t blown away by the novel in its entirety. Will try again...

message 41: by Maddie (last edited Aug 23, 2018 05:08PM) (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments I'm reading Conversations with Friends while I wait for my booker mail to arrive and Normal People to be published. I found this passage:

"I sat staring at my laptop screen until it went black. Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought."

I love finding this kind of likely unconnected links between works of literature, and find them fascinating.

I'm also really enjoying the book. Rooney's writing itself is not the most beautiful but I agree there's a nuance about it, and she's undoubtedly a very intelligent person. I really think she is one to watch.

UPDATE: I found another "normal people" reference. I guess it's just a very normal thing in her writing, hahaha

message 42: by Hugh (last edited Aug 24, 2018 12:52AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
Just seen an email saying my copy is on its way. If only I hadn't just started a 300+ page book - as it is I am unlikely to start this one before Sunday!

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Going back to Jonathans comments above, one of last year's Republic of Consciousness Prize judges is reading the book currently and really quite pleasantly surprised with it.

message 44: by Joe (new)

Joe (paddyjoe) | 72 comments Heading to Waterstones this morning to pick up my copy of Normal People.

I've been told that both Normal People and CWF were written around the same time and submitted to Faber. The publisher decided that CWF should be published first to build up the hype, followed shortly after by Normal People.

message 45: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Interesting, Joe.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments That is interesting.

Although does not seem to tie in at all with interviews she gave in say 2017 when she talked about the book she was then writing and how it was different writing a book three years after she wrote the first one

Just one example ....

I wonder if both were in conceptual drafts and her publisher asked her to complete the first one?

But with 50 pages to go this book is threatening to drop into my short list. And I thought CWF was very promising but flawed.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Now that was an enjoyable surprise to finish the Long list. Review to follow tomorrow.

message 48: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 25, 2018 03:20AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments I really like this quotation from the book in today's Guardian interview with Rooney:

Towards the end of Normal People, Connell goes to see a visiting writer read from his work, and finds it lacking: “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishised for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys, so that they might afterwards feel superior to the uneducated people whose emotional journeys they liked to read about.”

So much so I think I'll add it as a GR quote.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments I had already highlighted that for my review!

Feels like a criticism which could be aimed at several of the books on the longlist!

I would say it will make for an interesting discussion at the Booker event if she is shortlisted alongside those books but Connell says of author readings (in the same passage) "they were attended only by people who wanted to be the kind of people who attended them". Ouch!

But at a different stage when reading about Emma's feelings watching Knightley and Harriet that it suggests to him " the same imagination he uses as a reader is necessary to understand real people to, and he intimate with them".

So there is some hope for us.

message 50: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 25, 2018 03:50AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "Connell says of author readings (in the same passage) "they were attended only by people who wanted to be the kind of people who attended them". Ouch! "

I haven't been to any for a long time - I don't think I was much older than Rooney when I last did, and possibly this sense of performativity is partly a twentysomething thing, or stronger in youth - but they did nearly always feel as if they were a performative experience. When I was there I would usually wonder why I'd bothered. The strangest one was accompanying a friend to a Jasper Fforde reading, as she didn't want to go to it alone. (So at least I had a solid reason to be there.) For me, his books were merely something okay to pass the time when not feeling great, and useful to have read so I knew what other people were talking about. I had no wish to be the kind of person who attended it - though nor was I embarrassed by it. It was incredibly... neutral.

They aren't the natural mode for delivery of the work, and most people don't get lost in it (I don't think) they way they might in a gig, play or cinema film. I felt readings were like Radio 4 shows you have to pay for and sit still in uncomfortable chairs to hear. (And usually, there was about as much mixing between audience members previously unknown to one another as there is after listening to a Radio 4 programme at home.)

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