Sally Rooney's "astounding" love story Normal People (Faber & Faber) has been named Waterstones' Book of the Year 2018.
The second book from the 27-year-old Dubliner, following her acclaimed debut Conversations with Friends, was chosen by a Waterstones panel headed by the chain's m.d. James Daunt.
He said: "Anyone who thinks that the bell tolls for literary fiction should visit one of our bookshops. They are full of thrilling discoveries, with none more energetically embraced by our booksellers than Sally Rooney’s astounding Normal People. We are delighted to name it our Book of the Year."
To win the prize, Normal People had to beat seven other shortlisted titles, comprising journalist Dolly Alderton's debut Everything I Know About Love (Penguin), Isabel Hardman’s "adept analysis" Why We Get the Wrong Politicians (Atlantic), the anonymously authored legal exposé The Secret Barrister (Picador), Orange prizewinner Madeline Miller's novel Circe (Bloomsbury), British historian Dan Jones and Brazilian artist Marina Amaral's coffee table history The Colour of Time (Head of Zeus), Nosy Crow children's book I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree, curated by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, and Penguin editor Henry Eliot's reader's companion to the Black Classics collection, The Penguin Classics Book (Penguin).
It will now receive "the full and committed backing" of Waterstones shops and booksellers across the UK during the peak shopping month of December, as well as support online and through Waterstones Plus, its loyalty card programme which reaches over 500,000 readers. An exclusive edition for Waterstones, featuring a board cover with blue foil finishes, a red ribbon marker and top and tail bands, and bespoke endpapers, will also go on sale.
Last year’s winner, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, saw an increase in sales of over 350% across the Waterstones estate following its win.
Rooney said: "I’d like to thank the booksellers at Waterstones for supporting this novel so wholeheartedly. In the production of books, the work of booksellers – as well as delivery drivers, paper mill workers, typesetters, proof-readers, and many more – is just as important, really, as the work of writers. So I would like to extend my thanks, if I can, to everyone whose hard work has been so vital to the writing and publication of this novel. I am very touched by the honour."
Normal People, set to be adapted for television by BBC Three, was previously longlisted for 2018's Man Booker Prize and is currently a contender in the Costa Book Awards' novel category. This week it also bagged the Eason Book Club Novel of the Year award at the An Post Irish Book Awards.
Sally Rooney's Normal People currently has a 4.31 out of 5 star rating on Books in the Media. Read all the reviews here.
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