In January 2021, it was announced that Normal People and Conversations With Friends author Sally Rooney would be publishing a new novel called Beautiful World, Where Are You. The novel is set across Dublin and Rome and follows four friends as they navigate love, distance, and growing older.
The novel, published by Macmillan, will be arriving on shelves on Sept. 7, 2021, and will follow centre on the lives of Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon.
The central figure in Beautiful World, Where Are You is Alice, a novelist. Alice meets Felix and the two decide to travel to Rome together. However, while she’s gone, her best friend Eileen is doing her best to get over a particularly painful break-up. In order to distract herself, she starts texting Simon, who she’s known since childhood.
As the book's synopsis reveals, readers can look forward to some distinctively Rooney-esque themes in Beautiful World, Where Are You. “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.”
As well as heartache and existential crises, there will also be sex – of course. “They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in,” the synopsis reads.
It concludes: “Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?”
On August 2, 2021, the cover art and blurb for Beautiful World, Where Are You were revealed via Twitter. The blurb reads:
“I was sitting half-asleep in the back of the taxi, remembering strangely that wherever I go, you are with me, and so is he, and that as long as you both live, the world will be beautiful to me.”
The literary landscape of the past five years has been dominated by, as Vox calls it, the “Cult of Sally Rooney.” The BBC adaptation of her second novel Normal People pretty much took over every Whatsapp chat during the first lockdown in April 2020. From the significance of Connell’s chain to the poignant sex scenes, there was a lot to unpack. And very soon we'll have another Rooney story to become obsessed with.
“Beautiful World, Where Are You is extraordinary for its compassion, humor, and lyrical delight. It’s extraordinary for the vitality of its characters and for the way it pushes so many contemporary buttons with deadeye accuracy and feeling,” says Mitzi Angel, a publisher at Farrar, Straus and Giroux (the division of Macmillan publishing Beautiful World, Where Are You). “Sally Rooney asks questions about things we hold dear: money, love, beauty, truth, success, God, the internet, art, and goodness itself. She shows us how precarious things are and how precious life is. I’m enormously grateful to be working with her again.”
Contributions from Alice Broster.
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