Róisín Meets: ‘She mutilates herself for a man. Young women can relate to that’

Cork author Louise O’Neill on her feminist reimagining of The Little Mermaid

Louise O’Neill: the novelist has been canvassing for a Yes vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Louise O’Neill: the novelist has been canvassing for a Yes vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

“It’s a story about a young woman who literally silences herself, sacrifices her family, sacrifices her home and mutilates her body in order for a man she barely knows to find her attractive,” the author Louise O’Neill says about The Little Mermaid. “I think, unfortunately, a lot of young women will empathise with that. I know myself that I did,” she tells Róisín Ingle on the latest episode of the Róisín Meets podcast.

The west Co Cork writer has brought Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairy tale into the 21st century, retelling the story through a feminist lens and moving the action to the Atlantic Ocean off the Irish coast.

It is her second book in as many months, following on from her third novel, Almost Love, and comes just a few weeks before the stage adaptation of her award-winning second book, Asking for It, debuts at the Everyman theatre, in Cork.

On this week’s podcast O’Neill talks about the joy of seeing her book come to life on stage, the trouble with people confusing her writing for nonfiction, and why she will never be tempted to publish two books in two months again.

She also talks about her new boyfriend and why she has no fear of knocking on doors around Clonakilty while canvassing in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution in this month’s referendum.

The Surface Breaks, by Louise O’Neill, is published by Scholastic

You can find all our podcasts on irishtimes.com/podcasts; subscribe to Róisín Meets on Apple, Android, Soundcloud or Stitcher

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