Fiction Book of the Year

Winner: Fiction Book of the Year

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People

Sally Rooney

Faber & Faber

Clever yet unpretentious, literary yet highly approachable—it’s a gift of a novel that can be enjoyed by readers of all tastes.” So said the British Book Awards judges of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, winner not only of this Fiction award but of the overall Book of the Year, too.

Contemporary and universally relatable, Rooney’s writing sold itself. But Normal People is also a classic example of a publisher adding huge value to a book. By publishing it swiftly behind Rooney’s début, Conversations With Friends, it was able to capitalise on media interest and consumer anticipation. The cover design was one of the most striking of the year, and Maria Garbutt-Lucero’s exemplary PR work earned her a place on the shortlist for this year’s Publicity Campaign of the Year award.

With a blitz of proofs, point-of-sale resources and author visits, Faber stoked huge retailer support for the book, too—especially among shopfloor booksellers at Waterstones, which beat the British Book Awards to it by voting Normal People its Book of the Year. The novel’s sales—114,000 copies through the TCM in 2018, plus nearly 50,000 e-books—are impressive enough, but its impact on booksellers and buyers somehow appeared to be even greater: this was a book that stayed with people.