Mr Salary by Sally Rooney
Published by Faber & Faber, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I was starting to feel like the only person in the bookish community yet to try author-of-the-moment, Sally Rooney. Seeing that she had a short story published as part of the recent Faber Stories series (small and inexpensive volumes released to mark their 90th anniversary), I jumped at the chance to sample her narrative voice. Having now done so, I fully understand the hype.
Being so brief, I won’t go into any specifics regarding plot. But I will say that I was greatly impressed by Rooney’s deceptively simple yet shrewdly observant look at the power dynamic between our central characters – a woman in her early 20s, and a man in his late 30s. From the very first page, I had a clear sense of who these people were as individuals, and the nature of the relationship between them. The tone was almost voyeuristic, and it worked so well.
What’s really interesting, looking through reviews, is the split between those who find Sukie and Nathan’s relationship charming, and those who find it toxic. This discrepancy, and the ability to interpret things so differently is, I think, very deliberate. It reflects the uncertainty that the characters themselves feel about succumbing to the sexual tension between them, and is testament to Rooney’s deft yet subtle execution.
With Sukie also dealing with her father’s illness, this became, to me, a fascinating rumination on the parallel between being on the brink of love, and being in the presence of impending death; and how a closeness to both can blind us to reality. If this is what she can do with a short story, I can’t wait to try one of Rooney’s novels.
If you fancy picking up a copy of Mr Salary, you can find it on Book Depository with free international shipping by clicking here. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!