Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney’s critically acclaimed first novel, has picked up deserved word-of-mouth momentum since it was published earlier this year. In this month’s Irish Times Book Club podcast, recorded live at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin, Rooney explains how it came into being.
For those who have yet to succumb to the pleasure of this talented young author’s debut, Conversations With Friends tells the lucid, painful, addictive, story of 21-year-old Frances, a Dublin student who embarks on a torturous affair with 32-year-old actor Nick, who is married to writer/photographer Melissa, who Frances’s closest friend and ex-girlfriend Bobbi has a bit of a crush on.
Published by Faber after a seven-way bidding auction, Conversations with Friends was praised in The Irish Times for its fearless writing, while it was described in the New Yorker as "a new kind of adultery novel".
The novel – which tracks Frances’s relationship with Bobbi, Nick, Melissa, her parents, her body and her place in the world – unfolds in a wealth of smart exchanges, as Frances plays conversational table tennis and uses analytical language to deflect her emotions and hide the fact that she’s not anywhere near as relentlessly composed as she likes to make out.
In this podcast, Rooney explores how she developed the distinctive tone of Conversations With Friends through dialogue, why people sometimes think she is Frances and Frances is her, and how she writes in concentrated, intense periods. She also gives us some hints about her recently submitted and much-anticipated second novel.