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13th Sep 2021

5 Irish novels to read if you love Sally Rooney

Sarah McKenna Barry

It’s fair to say that Sally Rooney has emerged as one of this decade’s most celebrated authors, and rightly so.

Normal People and Conversations with Friends are beloved by legions of fans all around the world, who are no doubt devouring her latest release Beautiful World, Where are You as we speak.

Having said that, the past few years have seen an abundance of talented writers emerge out of Ireland with novels that resonate with the millennial experience.

Though this list is far from exhaustive – there are so many excellent Irish writers right now – here are five Irish novels to get lost in if you love Sally Rooney.

1. Snowflake by Louise Nealon

Snowflake follows 18 year-old Debbie White as she attempts to balance her new beginnings at Trinity College with her tumultuous home life in rural Ireland. Nealon effortlessly carves out unique and memorable characters in this touching and witty debut.

2. Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan

With a non-linear plot, Acts of Desperation sees our unnamed protagonist attempt to navigate a toxic relationship with her cold and uncaring partner Ciaran. Nolan’s first novel is a refreshingly honest take on obsession and shame.

3. Holding her Breath by Eimear Ryan

Ryan’s novel tells the story of Beth, a former competitive swimmer who embarks on studies at Trinity College, only to find that her classmates are more interested in her late grandfather, a celebrated Irish poet. Holding her Breath is an absolute page-turner that grips the reader from the start.

4. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Set to be adapted for TV (with Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor in the lead role, no less), Exciting Times is a razor-sharp portrait of Ava, an English language teacher working in Hong Kong who finds herself in a relationship with a male British banker, and a female lawyer from Hong Kong.

5. This Happy by Niamh Campbell

Campbell’s novel paints a vibrant picture of Allanah, a married woman who looks back on an earlier misguided affair with a married man. Like Acts of Desperation, This Happy has a non-linear plot which unravels beautifully, revealing pertinent insights along the way.