Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Alice and Eileen have been friends since university, now with their thirties looming, one has achieved international literary acclaim while the other languishes at a small-time literary magazine in Dublin. Through close personal moments and sprawling emails to each other, this novel spans their late twenties as they navigate their careers, friendship, and love lives.
Alice has retreated from fame to a small coastal town and met working class Felix on Tinder, sparking a non-relationship that is both intimate and sparse. Eileen is navigating a sexual relationship with her childhood crush Simon while not knowing if she will get, or if she even wants, any more than that.
Told in close third person, not accessing any of the characters thoughts while remaining tightly in their particular worlds, this is the next phase of life for characters not unlike those of Rooney’s previous novels. Musings on capitalism, fame, the environment, love, friendship, and history pepper this novel in both thoughtful and at times purposely frustrating ways. Still a sweeping young talent to keep an eye on, Rooney’s characters continue to grow with her and feel as real and present as old friends you haven’t caught up with in a little while.