When I meet Sally Rooney, she has just come from her Observer photoshoot and has the air of someone trying to remain calm and process what is happening to her. How was it, I ask. “Mortifying,” she replies, then quickly corrects herself. “Listen to me complaining! Oh, it’s so terrible getting my photo taken to promote my first novel.” She pulls a face. “I know this doesn’t actually count as a problem.”
She might be forgiven for feeling some shellshock. Rooney, a Dubliner, is just 25, and her debut, Conversations with Friends, sold to Faber last April after a seven-way auction among publishers. Rights have been sold in 12 countries; the deal was, she says, enough that she now doesn’t have to work “for a couple of years”. Faber’s Mitzi Angel describes her as a “phenomenal talent”, a Martin Amis or Jay McInerney for the Snapchat generation. The change in her life has, she says, been “so colossal that I almost haven’t been able to react”.