UC Book Of The Year 2014: Room
Room / by Emma Donoghue
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia, 2010
The story of a mother, her son, a locked room and the outside world.
Jack is five and, like any little boy, excited at the prospect of presents and cake. He's looking forward to telling his friends it's his birthday, too. But although Jack is a normal child in many ways - loving, funny, bright, full of energy and questions - his upbringing is far from ordinary: Jack's entire life has been spent in a single room that measures just 12 feet by 12 feet; as far as he's concerned, Room is the entire world.
He shares this world with his mother, with Plant, and tiny Mouse (though Ma isn't a fan and throws a book at Mouse when she sees him). There's TV too, of course - and the cartoon characters he thinks of as his friends - but Jack knows that nothing else he sees on the screen is real. Old Nick, on the other hand, is all too real, but only visits at night - like a bat - when Jack is meant to be asleep and hidden safely in Wardrobe. And only Old Nick has the code to Door, which is otherwise locked...
Told in Jack's voice, Room is the story of a mother's love for her son, and of a young boy's innocence.
Biography of Author, Emma Donoghue
"I'm immensely excited about ROOM being chosen as University of Canberra Book of the Year, not only because it's such a compliment to the novel, but because students - bringing all their enthusiasm to responding to a book, as well as their critical thinking - are perhaps my favourite audience to engage with. ROOM is a very hybrid piece of fiction, drawing on traditions as different as the child's-eye story, the thriller, the fairy tale and the eighteenth-century novel, so I'm hoping it'll be useful as a sort of crossroads from which to consider all sorts of literary, social and psychological territory". Emma Donoghue
Born in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an award-winning Irish writer, living in Canada with her family. Her novels include Room, The Sealed Letter, Landing, Life Mask, Slammerkin, Hood and Stir-fry; short-story collections Astray, Three and a Half Deaths (UK ebook), Touchy Subjects, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, and Kissing the Witch; and literary history including Inseparable, We Are Michael Field, and Passions Between Women as well as two anthologies that span the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Frog Music, her new novel, comes out in Spring 2014.
Nominations: Man Booker Prize, Orange Prize, Irish Times and Irish Fiction Award.
Awards: Commonwealth Prize (Canada and Carribbean), Rogers Writers' Trust Award, Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award and Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction.
'Sophisticated in outlook and execution…Utterly plausible, vividly described.' – New York Times
'Both hard to put down and profoundly affecting…Donoghue has crafted a narrative that moves as breathlessly as a serial-killer thriller while convincingly portraying, with the precision of a science-fiction novel, how a boy might believe that a room is his whole world.' – Sunday Times
'With a pitch-perfect opening paragraph, Emma Donoghue leads us into an extraordinary, dark and compelling world…I doubt a better novel will be published this year – or one that lingers so long in the memory.' – Times Educational Supplement
'Affecting and uplifting.' – Evening Standard
'Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language…Room is unlike anything I've ever read before.' – Anita Shreve, author of Testimony and A Change in Altitude