The novel still lives: News that Sally Rooney will publish a new book is drawing widespread media coverage.
Rooney's third novel, "Beautiful World, Where Are You" comes out in September, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the United States and Faber & Faber in Great Britain and Rooney's native Ireland.
At age 30, Rooney is one of the few novelists who still receive such attention in the social media age. Rooney gained enormous popularity among a coterie of fans with her first books, "Conversations With Friends" and "Normal People," which examined the erotic confusions and cultural aspirations of young people coming of age in a socially changing Ireland and Europe.
She also received acclaim for a steamy Hulu series based on "Normal People," which told of a young Irish couple's troubled love affair.
While some U.S. critics have given Rooney's work tepid praise, she has been acclaimed internationally as "the voice of her generation." She is one of the few "literary" novelists who command a wide readership.
Previews of the new novel indicate it will cover much of the same ground as her previous books. That's not a detriment; Faulkner, Fitzgerald and others revisited the same territory throughout their careers.
Set in Dublin, "Beautiful World, Where Are You" will portray Alice, a novelist, her best friend, Eileen, and their love interests, Felix and Simon. The young adults seek meaning from their lives in a world of declining prospects and increasing environmental devastation.
While upholding the continued relevance of novels, the new book reflects the decline of letter writing. Much of the novel's plot consists of emails between Alice and Eileen instead of the ink-and-paper letters that once carried narratives. Rooney also used emails and text messages in her other novels.
But book lovers can rejoice: Rooney once again shows that novels still matter.