Victoria here, lucky enough to have attended a recent reading and signing by Emma Donoghue at the Next Chapter Book Store in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon. She read from her latest novel The Room, which has been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award.
She read from the first chapter of the book, in the unusual point of view of the five-year-old boy who has lived in the room alone except for his mother. I was almost unable to put the book down once I started reading it. I found it entirely gripping and extremely well written.
You can find more about Ms. Donoghue and her novel here. It was recently reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review Sunday, September 19, read it here. Although you will be unable to avoid some description of the story, try not to find out anything about it beyond the basic premise. No spoilers, please!
Following her reading, Ms. Donoghue answered many questions about the novel, it’s voice, it’s inspiration, and her newly found prominence. In all humility, she said, while talking of her attempts to work on her next novel, “Being famous is very exhausting.” She spoke about her children, a son and a daughter, and how her relationships with them fed into the novel. She was born in Ireland and now lives in Canada.
I first read Donoghue’s 2004 novel Life Mask, set in London in the 1790’s. Major characters include Elizabeth Farren, an actress; the Earl of Derby, her devoted admirer; and Anne Damer, a sculptress and society widow. It was well-researched and I found it fascinating that she has not returned to this period to investigate further interesting characters of the time. But she disclosed her next project will be set in mid-19th century California. Wow!
Best of luck to you, Emma Donoghue. May you follow in the footsteps of Hilary Mantel (see my post of 9/5/10) and win the Man Booker!