Sally Rooney Interview: Writing with Marxism

To what extent can a writer accommodate an economic and social philosophy to a novel? The Irish literary sensation Sally Rooney, who thinks about the world through “a sort of Marxist framework,” here talks about writing about social class and the novel as a commodity.

Rooney is sceptical of how books are marketed as accessories “like beautiful items that you can fill your shelves with and therefore become a sort of book person.” This, she continues, also means that the books are sealed off from any real potential as political texts “because of the role they play in the culture economy.” In much the same way, she feels that it is problematic that writers are taken from their background and made “part of a special class which is somewhat fenced off from normal life as it proceeds in the outside world.”

Though Rooney, who has been hailed as “the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism,” considers herself a Marxist, she doesn’t feel that she can apply this to the form of a novel: “I don’t know what it means to write a Marxist novel.” She does however, feel that it influences her work in that she writes a lot about social class, and how difficult it is to escape the transactional framework of capitalism: “The best I can do is to try and observe how class, as a very broad social structure, impacts our personal and intimate lives.”

Sally Rooney (b. 1991) is an Irish writer. Rooney is the author of ‘Conversations with Friends’ (2017) and ‘Normal People’ (2018). The latter won the ‘Irish Novel of the Year’ at the Irish Book Awards as well the Costa Book Award, which Rooney is the youngest novelist to land. Rooney is also the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2017. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Moreover, she is the editor of the Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly.

Sally Rooney was interviewed by Kathrine Tschemerinsky at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2018.

Camera: Jacob Solbakken
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea-fonden



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