The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with Warwick University, has quite a knack for picking future literary stars – Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters and Robert Macfarlane among them.
But the upward trajectory of Sally Rooney since she won the prize in 2017 with her debut Conversations with Friends has been steeper, swifter and way, way more dramatic than anything even we could have imagined.
That year, 2017, Conversations with Friends was a Sunday Times, Observer and Telegraph Book of the Year.
2018, though, was even more dramatic.
Sally became the editor of the influential Irish periodical The Stinging Fly, and then published a second novel, Normal People, that was longlisted for the Man Booker, has won the Costa Novel Award, made it to No 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller charts, was made Waterstones book of the year, sold an astonishing 40,000 copies of the special Waterstones edition alone, and has turned Sally into the most cultish young writer of the moment. All that and a television deal, too, with Sally slated to adapt the novel for the screen.
It’s an extraordinary achievement, and we at the prize where we can modestly say it all began raise our hats to her.