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Sally Rooney admits she’s struggling with newfound fame in powerful interview

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Kayleigh Dray
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Are fame and fortune really worth it? Normal People’s Sally Rooney isn’t so sure.

Sally Rooney has been scooping awards left, right and centre for her critically acclaimed second novel Normal People. Indeed, she was named the winner of the Costa Novel Award earlier this year, making her the youngest person ever to receive the prize since it was launched in 1971.

However, in a revealing new interview with Vanity Fair, Rooney has said that she finds herself troubled by her newfound fame – and that she never wanted to be hailed as the “voice of a generation.” 

“It’s a far cry from why I started writing,” she said. “Yeah, it’s pretty much the opposite of why.”

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Rooney continued: “The majority of people have never heard of me—the vast, vast, vast majority of people. And long may it stay that way! I’m very, very happy with that and I completely acknowledge that I’m not actually famous.”

“Having said that, obviously to some degree my job involves me taking on a role as a public figure on a very minor level,” she said. “And so that is different from being a completely private citizen, a private individual. So it’s definitely something I think about. And are there responsibilities? Are there ethical responsibilities that come with that? And also because it’s something I never wanted…

“It has made my life weird in certain respects, it has – only for a couple of weeks. It’s very self-limiting.”

For those who have yet to read Normal People, the novel follows middle-class Marianne and working-class Connell as they move from secondary school in a small town to university in Dublin, we see the pair fall in love, grapple with issues of family, class, sex and mental health, and slowly move towards adulthood.  

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In December, Rooney was named one of Stylist’s women of the year in our final issue of 2018. 

“In 2018, Sally Rooney established herself as the most exciting and important literary voice of the year,” wrote Stylist’s digital commissioning editor Sarah Biddlecombe.

Normal People is an unconventional love story that blurs the boundaries between friendship and romance, and Rooney captures the quieter moments of love among my generation in a way no other writer has quite managed.”

Thrillingly, Rooney is now working on a TV adaptation of Normal People for the BBC. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming must-watch series.

Images: Getty Images 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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