Beautiful World, Where Are You? By Sally Rooney

Rooney has a gift for making real the pleasures of sex and intimacy— a shower in the morning while a close friend you’ve just had great sex with makes you coffee—the pleasure of a long friendship, but complicates these joys by questioning their centrality in both the novel and our current world. Via an eerily distant omniscience that makes note of each character’s nearly constant preoccupation with their screens, and an erudite and thoughtful email exchange among intelligent best friends, Rooney elucidates the seeming paradox of being a novelist consumed with relationships and love in an irreparably broken world. How can it matter who you love when the climate is warming? Her third novel, the book feels like a reflection on what she’s already done as a novelist—made real the complexity of love—in favor of an oscillation between that feat and a meta-analysis of it. Ultimately, here, love and these characters matter.

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