Hype for Sally Rooney Book Swag and ‘Beautiful World, Where Are’


Maybe you’ve heard a new Sally Rooney novel incoming?

This summer, preliminary copies of “Beautiful World, Where Are You” graced the literary internet’s Twitter feeds and Instagram Stories – the unassuming boasts that readers were grabbing the book ahead of its September 7 release.

Soon, the hype for Ms. Rooney’s third novel, hailed as the 30-year-old author of “Conversations With Friends” and “Normal People” and the first great novelist of the millennium, began to feed a secondary market. According to this Guard, one kitchen sold on eBay for $209.16 in June, despite the publisher’s clear indication that such copies are “not for resale.”

As the release date draws closer, expectations are approaching streetwear bearish levels. In August, Mrs. Rooney’s publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, distributed yellow bucket hats and tote bags (containing the cover art of the novel, Headline Lo) to celebrities, journalists, and other so-called literary influencers. They were encouraged to share about the book using the hashtag #BWWAY.

Lena Dunham, Maggie Rogers and Lucy Dacus are among those who shared the book’s photos and promotional loot on social media. Sarah Jessica Parker was photographed reading between shoots for the reboot of “Sex and the City.” Vanity Fair reporter Delia Cai described it as “the status galley of summer” in an interview.

For some publishing professionals, FSG’s mail was humbling. Laura Marsh, literary editor of The New Republic, noted on twitter He said he didn’t take the bag or the hat. Knopf’s publisher Lisa Lucas, Pantheon and Schocken, tweeted out “It’s cool enough for a bag but not a bucket hat,” he said. (As clarification, I bought a bag, but not a bucket hat either.)

Meanwhile, Hollywood executives can’t even get their hands on the seemingly ubiquitous preliminary copies. “Right now, Sally’s reps are keeping kitchens away,” said Jordan Helman, head of script content for Hulu, which distributes the TV adaptation of “Normal People” in the United States.

For those who missed the early edition, there will be plenty of loot to collect on Tuesday when the title is released. Bookstores in the UK plan to open early and distribute t-shirts, plus even more tote bags. A Sally Rooney umbrella arrives (for those moments when you take action to ask “Good weather, where are you?”). During the week of September 13, independent bookstores in the US will be distributing promotional items, and a “Beautiful World, Where Are You” branded truck coffee will also be serving in New York.

Literary Hub’s editor-in-chief, Emily Temple, described the ongoing Rooney frenzy as almost “unprecedented” for a release of literary fiction. According to him, “Ferrante Fever” – brings to mind the obsession with the pseudonymous author. Elena FerranteBeginning with “My Perfect Friend”, Neapolitan Novels brought him international fame.

Sheila O’Shea, FSG’s director of promotion and marketing, emphasized that the big campaign for “Beautiful World, Where Are You” is about celebrating the author’s existing readership and “bringing Sally Rooney to people who will still discover Sally Rooney.” In other words, it relies on influential people who share their products on Instagram and acquire new readers through their small screens.

Some buyers noted the irony of the promotional bombardment, given Ms. Rooney’s expressed Marxist values. Ms. Cai said of the shopping bag, “I have a strange feeling when you carry it around that you are fulfilling your capitalist purpose.” “If you care so much about Sally Rooney, you should be skeptical of it, or at least be aware of it.”

Like Ms. Rooney’s first two novels, “Beautiful World, Where Are You” is about bright 20-somethings who spend as much time thinking about climate change and reproductive ethics as they do about their love.

“Although they are very passionate about certain things, their characters can still see the irony in things and live with contradictions in their lives,” said Mitzi Angel, FSG’s publisher and longtime editor of Ms. Rooney. “That’s one of the best things about his job.”

One of the book’s main characters is also a realistic fiction writer grappling with the anxieties of overnight fame.

“The great irony,” said Maris Kreizman, host of the “The Maris Review” podcast, of the novel’s introduction, “has written a book about Sally Rooney’s character, who is beginning to acknowledge what a young and attractive writer is. being marketed.” (Ms. Dacus, whose profile has risen, may be related to this plot. “Honestly, I don’t want anyone’s bad reputation,” the musician said over the phone.)

Despite the press and acclaim surrounding Ms. Rooney’s writings, she has yet to come close to a blockbuster level of cultural awareness. “Just because something is popular in our posts doesn’t mean it’s popular in the world,” said Karah Preiss, founder of actress Emma Roberts of the online book club Belletrist.

“If you go to anyone on the street, anywhere and ask them what Harry Potter is, they’ll know what it is,” he continued. “If you ask them who Sally Rooney is, they’re like, ‘I don’t know, did you go to school with her?’ they say.”

For those who know, the yellow bucket hat may one day become a cultural artifact. “In 20 years,” said Mrs. Temple, “the coolest girl in a small college in Vermont will find her in the thrift store and wear it with everyone’s envy.”


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