Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ Debuts on the List at No. 3

After the publication of her first novel, “Conversations With Friends,” the Irish writer Sally Rooney was hailed as the “Salinger for the Snapchat generation” and “the first great millennial novelist.” Now The Guardian has dubbed her new novel, “Normal People,” “a future classic,” and Vox declared that it would be “tough to beat as book of the year.”

Though not all reviews of “Normal People” have been raves (The New Republic said it felt “rushed into publication” and The Times thought it was “in some ways like the slightly less impressive follow-up album by a beloved band”), the book debuts this week at No. 3. Rooney has been drawing big crowds on her American book tour for the last few weeks, which isn’t something literary novelists usually do. Fans at a recent standing-room-only event in Brooklyn raved about the way she depicts female friendships — and how terrific her sex scenes are. “When I hear the phrase ‘sex scene,’ I think about a dialogue scene,” Rooney recently told Oprah magazine. “What do these characters want to say to each other? I won’t just write a scene where two characters say words to each other randomly. Similarly, sex scenes have to actually play some dramatic role.”

Two of Rooney’s earliest supporters were Sarah Jessica Parker, who Instagrammed “Conversations With Friends” and said, “This book. This book. I read it in one day. I hear I’m not alone,” and Lena Dunham, who tweeted, “Sally Rooney is my fave writer working in modern fiction.”

Rooney recently told The Times that success had taken her by surprise, since she expected to only reach readers “who share my ideology or have a similarly jaundiced view of social systems.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she admitted that she had “reached a level of attention that I was not prepared for. It’s been very intense.”

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