Intermezzo by Sally Rooney, on bookshelves in September 2024

17 June 2024

Cover image of Intermezzo, the new Sally Rooney novel.

Intermezzo, the fourth novel by Irish literary fiction author Sally Rooney, will be published on 24 September 2024*. The synopsis is classic Rooney:

Aside from the fact that they are brothers, Peter and Ivan Koubek seem to have little in common.

Peter is a Dublin lawyer in his thirties — successful, competent and apparently unassailable. But in the wake of their father’s death, he’s medicating himself to sleep and struggling to manage his relationships with two very different women — his enduring first love Sylvia, and Naomi, a college student for whom life is one long joke.

Ivan is a twenty-two-year-old competitive chess player. He has always seen himself as socially awkward, a loner, the antithesis of his glib elder brother. Now, in the early weeks of his bereavement, Ivan meets Margaret, an older woman emerging from her own turbulent past, and their lives become rapidly and intensely intertwined.

For two grieving brothers and the people they love, this is a new interlude — a period of desire, despair and possibility — a chance to find out how much one life might hold inside itself without breaking.

I’ve liked all of Rooney’s novels, with Conversations with Friends, her 2017 debut, being my favourite so far. I’m yet to see the TV adaptation, but am told the book/screen crossover didn’t quite work.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find many of Rooney’s male characters not to be all that driven, certainly when it comes to the women in their lives. The men are flawed (as are all of Rooney’s characters), and that’s ok, but they just don’t seem to have much motivation.

But said women are usually the lead protagonists, so maybe Peter and Ivan, especially since they are Intermezzo’s main characters, will be less plodding, less non-committal?

* that’s 24/9/24. Obviously not a palindrome… but does the date have some sort of significance, or was it chosen solely for its, um, numerical symmetry?


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