Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Rooney, Sally
Subject:  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / Psychological
Awards: An Post Irish Book Awards - Easton Novel of the Year (2021) Winner
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: June 2022
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 368
Size: 8.00in x 5.18in
Our Price:
$ 22.00
In stock

Additional Notes


"Beautiful World, Where Are You is Rooney's best novel yet. Funny and smart, full of sex and love and people doing their best to connect." -The New York Times

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. 

Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young-but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. 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?

"Fans of Rooney's previous work will relish the ache and uncertainty of her characters' coming of age, her way with emotional difficulty and her brilliance in showing the barriers we put between ourselves and the love of others. The last third of Beautiful World, Where Are You, when the four characters meet and connect, is a tour de force. The dialogue never falters, and the prose burns up the page. It takes some time to get these people in the same room, however, and that movement towards intimacy is purposely delayed by Rooney's descriptive prose, which heats up slowly." -Anne Enright, The Guardian

"This is Rooney's strongest writing thus far, bathed in a soft white light-she does some wonderful things with light, and air-bearing (sometimes heavy) glimmers of James Salter and Proust in its dense, photographic mapping of everyday conscious experience, then spanning outwards to our small consequence in the vastness of the universe. . . There is a touching honesty and truthfulness in these pages, along with a quiet brilliance, and that seems something for art to offer amid the anguished state of the world: to show how we live, to ask how we can live." -Diana Evans, The Financial Times

"Rooney, though, approaches each of her problems with a passionate honesty that means her conclusions about life and art feel hard-won and precious. Beautiful World, Where Are You operates on the reader with a kind of rebuking seriousness: are you living properly? Do you care deeply enough about the most important things? The book moved me to tears more than once. . . Rooney's best novel. . . The emotional control and technical mastery of the book's final pages reveal her as a novelist who will soon be able to do more or less as she likes-if she's not there already." -James Marriott, The Times (UK)

"Rooney vividly traces the shifting amoeba-like shapes of these relationships in her distinctive, expository prose style that reads like a late capitalist homage to Hemingway. . . . Rooney's toughest and most sweeping novel to date." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR

"In language both accessible and clear . . . Rooney has written an extraordinarily lucid, gorgeous and nuanced work about coming of age in what is indeed a broken world. . . . It is Rooney's language and alertness to mood, setting and pacing that make these relationships so profoundly compelling. . . . [O]ne of the most assured, poetic and beautifully calibrated books I've read in years. . . . This is a book designed to be widely read and discussed. . . . Rooney's commitment to the beauty of the novel feels old-fashioned and sincere in the best way." -Bilal Qureshi, The Washington Post

"[Rooney's] writing about sex is taut and direct. It's a narrative style I associate with the films of Andrew Haigh and Joanna Hogg, two great visual poets of social anxiety and reticence. Rooney's dialogue is frequently perfect . . . Beautiful World, Where Are You is Rooney's best novel yet. Funny and smart, full of sex and love and people doing their best to connect." -Brandon Taylor, The New York Times Book Review

"Even more moving than Normal People or Conversations with Friends . . . Beautiful World, Where Are You is still very dialectical and Marxist and interested in political debates. Yet it is also a love letter to the novel as a form of art-and, by extension, to the ways in which human beings relate to one another . . . Beautiful World, Where Are You is a love letter to all of us, to all the ways we love." -Constance Grady, Vox

"Rooney hammers out the problems and promises of contemporary novels and contemporary life-all while reminding us of her distinctive style's disarming intimacies . . . This is Rooney stepping into herself as a fully-formed artist, ready to defend the validity and originality of her methods . . . Beautiful World combines the intricacies of Rooney's lightning-rod style, like her deep well of sympathy for her characters and her precise economy of language, with a growing maturity." -Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

"Extremely well-written longing. Three novels in, and it's still what Rooney does best: ensnare us over and over in the jet-fueled heat between good-looking (and supernaturally articulate) Irish youths . . . Each sentence builds like a brushstroke: on its own, any particular line can seem pedestrian. Assembled together, we get whole scenes of otherwise banal parties and bus rides, glances cast and bodies rearranged, all rendered to a storybook-like effect." -Delia Cai, Vanity Fair

"Brilliantly done: gripping, steamy, unbearably sad." -Susannah Goldsbrough, The Telegraph

"Reading the Rooney corpus in sequence feels like watching the characters grow up and mature into a life of complicated interpersonal relationships. Rooney's special skill is the ability to place readers at eye level with her characters and plot, to sneak them into the world of her story as a participant in the room . . . She pulls the reader in with her famously unadorned sentences and creates an intimacy akin to peering over the characters' shoulders." -Kyung Mi Lee, The Boston Globe

"Delightfully dirty at times and compulsively readable . . . Though it admittedly feels wickedly satisfying to be caught once again in Rooney's web of friendship-courtship entanglements, the pining glances, wounded squabbles and even the raunchy, sexy scenes aren't the reasons to read Beautiful World . . . Instead, it's what Rooney does with the other chapters - probing letters between Alice and Eileen-that feels so experimental and exciting." -Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle

"In failing to look for the nation in these books, we fail to see Rooney's stories in all their richness . . . The book's Irishness is like its professional jealousies or its sexual tensions: bottled up for almost too long, then relieved in one moment . . . Rooney's books happen in a particular place. Her study of relationships is all the more rewarding when you give that place a name. Its name is Ireland: Sally Rooney is Irish." -Sean O'Neill, Gawker

"[Sally Rooney's] most overtly personal work yet . . . As someone drifting ever-nearer to 30 myself, Beautiful World resonated in a way that Rooney's earlier works did not. That said, teetering on the cusp of your thirties is hardly a prerequisite for reading the novel . . . There's a weight, an urgency that grounds Alice and Eileen's narratives, and it's the same weight and urgency every one of us has been living with for the past 18 months." -Isabel Jones, InStyle

"Fundamentally [Sally Rooney's] books are pleasurable to read . . . Beautiful World, Where Are You contains enough innovation-stylistic playfulness, a new, more cerebral mode, a variation in perspective-to signal that she is trying new things." -Katie Roiphe, The Wall Street Journal

"[Sally Rooney's] third consecutive banger after Normal People and Conversations with Friends, an intimate and piercingly smart story about sex and friendship . . . Rooney is masterful at finding profound meaning in the quotidian, in ramping up the tension and heightening the stakes in the most microscopic of interactions. The pages fly as fast as in any thriller to find out if these four young adults can figure out how and why to live." -Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today

"I would gladly read any glimmer of [Rooney's] thoughts refracted through a character . . . When you spend a lot of time thinking about how civilization is declining and Earth is burning, it becomes clear that there are some rare joys, and that horniness is one of them. Rooney would not write so carefully about sex if she didn't see intrinsic value in pleasure, in gratifying the senses during our one spin on the planet." -Blythe Robertson, Bustle

"I abandon books like a drunken sailor and in another mood, I might have tossed Rooney overboard. But then, there it was, on page 40: a sentence of such exquisite bitterness that it cut my sweet summer day in half. Was there more where that came from? I simply had to know . . . Gentle, intense, emotional . . . The plot is pretty Austenian: A bunch of people become mutually enlightened about the true nature of themselves and each other." -Molly Young, Vulture

"In many ways, this book, a work of both philosophy and romantic tragicomedy about the ways people love and hurt one another, is exactly the type of book one would expect Rooney to write out of the political environment of the past few years. But just because the novel is so characteristic of Rooney doesn't take anything away from its considerable power . . . A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama." -Kirkus (Starred)

"A cool, captivating story . . . Rooney establishes a distance from her characters' inner lives, creating a sense of privacy even as she describes Alice and Eileen's most intimate moments. It's a bold change to her style, and it makes the illuminations all the more powerful when they pop. As always, Rooney challenges and inspires." -Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"Writing with her trademark truthfulness and wit, Rooney compels with both these meta-conversations and the actions of her characters' lives: their enthralling, intimate, and consequential grappling with themselves, with one another, and with beauty, sex, and friendship. Rooney's first novel since Normal People, which became a popular and award-winning Hulu series, is steadily drawing excitement." -Booklist (Starred)

"Keen and tersely delivered observations about the follies of youth, sex, and friendships." -Adam Price, The Millions (Most Anticipated)

"As much as she resists the title, Rooney's new book may just cement her status as a leading voice of the millennial generation. -Harper's Bazaar (Most Anticipated)
Biographical NoteSally Rooney is the author of the novels Conversations with Friends, Normal People and Beautiful World, Where Are You. She was the editor of the Stinging Fly in 2018 and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library from 2019–20. She was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the television adaptation of Normal People, which was broadcast on CBC Gem in 2020.