Dirt: The next 'Normal People'

Sally Rooney rides again.

Dirt is a daily email about entertainment.

Ever heard of Sally Rooney? Of course you have, she’s the only millennial novelist. Or maybe you know her from Normal People, the steamy BBC / Hulu miniseries version of her second novel, of the same name. The good news for fans of literature, television, and cultural controversy alike is that Rooney’s new novel has just been announced: Beautiful World, Where Are You. Here’s how the New York Times describes it:

Set largely in Dublin and a nearby town, it centers on four characters — a novelist named Alice, her best friend Eileen, and their respective love interests, Felix and Simon. In conversations and email exchanges, the friends dissect their love lives and their fears about the future of the planet.

Rooney’s first novel was Conversations with Friends; is this Conversations Among Normal People? The gist seems to be the author confronting millennial pessimism, our lack of a sense of the future when civilization is threatened by internet addiction, civil warfare, pandemic, and climate change. Her new publisher, FSG, put out a trailer hyping the book as a kind of quarantine antidote:

While the two novels in Rooney’s new deal are more or less guaranteed to be massive hits, they’re also guaranteed to be TV shows and / or movies. Hulu is already producing a Conversations with Friends miniseries with the same director as Normal People and one of the show’s writers (who is named Alice IRL, hmmm). We can expect to see a growing Rooney Multimedia Universe; it’s only a matter of time until one of them gets turned into a podcast somehow, too.

When you google Normal People, one of the auto-suggested queries is ‘Normal People season 2.’ Spoiler: That’s only going to happen if Rooney writes a sequel in a decade.

Personally I’m feeling nostalgic for a time when hit novels didn’t have to turn into streaming entertainment, but Rooney’s frictionless storytelling and the varnished mutual attraction of her idealized characters make the books well-suited to prestige TV. I guess it’s this or superheroes. — By Kyle Chayka

The Dirt: Everything is intellectual property, whether you want it to be or not.

Other Streaming Stuff:

Netflix is going to put out 70 original movies in 2021, more than one every week.

Spotify is depending on podcasts to make it more profitable in the future.

— Streaming media companies like Comcast, Disney, and AT&T/Warner are bigger and more consolidated than ever, as this chart from Vox shows.