Normal People

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Normal People
Normal People (Rooney novel).png
First edition cover
AuthorSally Rooney
Audio read byAoife McMahon
Set inDublin and Carricklea, County Sligo[1]
PublisherFaber & Faber
Publication date
Media typePrint
Awards2019 British Book Award for Book of the Year[2]
LC ClassPR6118.O59 N67 2018

Normal People is a 2018 novel by the Irish author Sally Rooney. Normal People is Rooney's second novel, published after Conversations with Friends (2017). The book became a best-seller in the US, selling almost 64,000 copies in hardcover in its first four months of release.[3] A critically acclaimed and Emmy nominated television adaptation of the same name aired from April 2020 on BBC Three and Hulu. A number of publications ranked it one of the best books of the 2010s.


The novel follows the complex friendship and relationship between two teenagers, Connell and Marianne, who both attend the same secondary school in County Sligo, Ireland and, later, Trinity College Dublin (TCD). It is set during the post-2008 Irish economic downturn, spanning from 2011 through 2015.[4] Connell is a popular, handsome, and highly intelligent secondary school student who begins a relationship with the unpopular, intimidating yet equally intelligent Marianne, whose mother employs Connell's mother as a cleaner. Connell keeps the affair a secret from school friends out of shame, but ends up attending Trinity with Marianne after the summer and reconciling. Well-off Marianne blossoms at university, becoming pretty and popular, while Connell struggles for the first time in his life to fit in properly with his peers. The pair weave in and out of each other's lives across their university years, developing an intense bond that brings to light the traumas and insecurities that make them both who they are.


Normal People received wide acclaim from critics.[5] The novel was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.[6] It was voted as the 2018 Waterstones' Book of the Year[7] and won "Best Novel" at the 2018 Costa Book Awards.[8] In 2019, the novel was longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction.[9] In the same year, the novel was ranked 25th on The Guardian's list of the 100 best books of the 21st century.[10] Media in Ireland described the book as a polemic, noting that Rooney has described herself as a Marxist and that the book features discussions about The Communist Manifesto document and Doris Lessing's feminist novel The Golden Notebook.[11]

Caroline E. Tew of The Harvard Crimson listed it as one of the 10 best books of the 2010s and wrote, "The prose is so clean and readable it’s almost as if you’re reading your own thoughts, and this is a book that simultaneously hurts to read and demands to be devoured in one day. It’s a beautiful trainwreck, and you can’t look away."[12] Entertainment Weekly writers ranked the book as the 10th best of the decade, with Seija Rankin writing, "Both of Sally Rooney’s novels capture the millennial ethos with raw honesty and impeccable insight. But what she broke ground with in Conversations With Friends, she perfected in Normal People."[13]


Award Year Result
Costa Book Awards for Best Novel 2018 Won[8]
British Book Award for Book of the Year 2019 Won[2]
Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlisted[6]
Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 Longlisted[9]


In May 2019, BBC Three and Hulu announced that a TV series based on the novel was set to be produced. It premiered on 26 April 2020 on BBC Three and 27 April 2020 on the Australian streaming service Stan.[14] In Ireland, the series began airing on RTÉ One on 28 April 2020. The series stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne and Paul Mescal as Connell.[15]


  1. ^ Hagan, Rachel (31 May 2019). "The BBC Unveils Plans For Adaptation Of Normal People By Sally Rooney". Elle. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Sally Rooney's Normal People wins big at British Book Awards". BBC News. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  3. ^ Grady, Constance (2019-09-03). "The cult of Sally Rooney". Vox. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  4. ^ Rooney, Sally (2019), Normal people A Novel, Inc OverDrive, New York, ISBN 978-1-9848-4334-0, OCLC 1090829156, retrieved 2021-05-07
  5. ^ "Bookmark | Book Marks". Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  6. ^ a b Flood, Alison (23 July 2018). "Man Booker prize 2018 longlist includes graphic novel for the first time". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Love story Normal People is Waterstones' book of the year". BBC News. 29 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b "The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es named Costa Book of the Year 2018". Front Row. BBC Radio 4.
  9. ^ a b "Announcing the Women's Prize 2019 Longlist". Women's Prize for Fiction. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  10. ^ "The 100 best books of the 21st century". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  11. ^ Sheahan, Fionnán (23 May 2020). "It's Marianne's fault we can't get a government to satisfy Normal People". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 May 2020. The author of Normal People is a self-professed Marxist... her politics seeps through her writing. It's no accident the central protagonists of the book that has captured the nation's imagination are the rich girl living in the mansion and the poor boy whose mother works as her family's cleaner. The TV version glosses over the discussions around 'The Communist Manifesto' and the feminist bible 'The Golden Notebook'.
  12. ^ Tew, Caroline E. (January 3, 2020). "10 Best Books of the Past Decade". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  13. ^ Rankin, Sally (November 25, 2019). "Here are EW's top 10 fiction books of the decade". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  14. ^ Russo, Rebecca (April 1, 2020). "An adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel 'Normal People' is heading to Stan". Time Out Melbourne. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  15. ^ "Hulu Orders New Series: "Normal People"". The Futon Critic. 30 May 2019.

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