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The Crack Magazine


Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

If Sally Rooney’s Normal People was written with Hemingway’s iceberg theory in mind, omitting as much as possible so the reader finds meaning implicitly, then Beautiful World, Where Are You is more volcano theory (if such exists) as much is made explicit. So, if your thing is chunks of political explication and navel gazing screeds, this is for you. How does one fall in love when the very concept seems outdated? Or maintain difficult friendships? And for what reason? Questions that the characters in Normal People were, maybe, too consumed by the present to ask. Beautiful World Where Are You, then, a very different literary beast, which one can’t help feeling was written in response to the more distressing aspects of fame and some of the more ridiculous criticism that’s come her way since the brilliant Normal People went stratospheric. Although most of the characters in Beautiful World, Where Are You are what you’d expect in a Sally Rooney novel: intelligent, articulate, good looking, here they are slightly older and worn down, doggedly asking questions about friendship, fame, love and, occasionally, ‘the political situation’ (and not necessarily coming to satisfactory conclusions). A noble attempt, nonetheless, at breaking free from the grip of Normal People and one that finds her at an interesting literary crossroads.

Publ. by Faber - £16.99

Steven Long