“She has transcended literary fiction. It is not something I can say about many young writers.”
Sally Rooney’s Normal People has taken the top prize at the British book awards, beating Michelle Obama’s widely-tipped autobiography Becoming and last year’s Man Booker winner Anna Burns’s Milkman.
Since her debut novel, Conversations With Friends, hit bookstores in 2017, her name has grown synonymous with best-seller lists and graces the palms of countless commuters.
For those who have been chronicling her path, it should be no wonder that her second novel, Normal People, has been met with similar acclaim.
Earlier this year, the novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Now, it’s scooped Best Book of the Year at the annual British Book Awards on 13 May – beating Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
On claiming the prize, Rooney thanked librarians and booksellers, saying she felt “astonishingly lucky”.
Normal People already won the Costa novel award and been crowned book of the year by Waterstone’s.
Despite Obama’s biography selling 253% more copies than Rooney’s novel, Alice O’Keeffe, chair of the judges and books editor of the Bookseller said that despite Obama’s impressive sales, Normal People was the most deserving winner.
“It was a really difficult decision and we went back and forth for a good while, but after much discussion, we felt that Sally Rooney is such a major talent and that her ‘difficult second novel’ was just as impressive as her debut was astonishing.
"She has been described as a millennial writer with millennial concerns, but I know readers in their seventies who loved Normal People. The passion that came through on the grassroots for this book is really something,” she said.
Rooney’s second book is currently being adapted for a new series on the BBC.