By Emma Donoghue
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316098335, 336pp.)
Publication Date: September 2010
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To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes. For more information, visit www.emmadonoghue.com.
In autumn, the publishing industry kicks into high gear, rolling out "big books" -- the titles that publishers hope readers will buy through the all-important holiday season. NPR's Lynn Neary follows the path of Emma Donoghue's novel, Room, a book that has generated some serious buzz. More at NPR.org
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- Why do you think the entire book is told in Jack’s voice? Do you think it is effective?
"Emma Donoghue's writing is superb alchemy, changing innocence into horror and horror into tenderness. Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."—Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
"I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before."—Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife and A Change in Altitude
"Room is that rarest of entities, an entirely original work of art. I mean it as the highest possible praise when I tell you that I can't compare it to any other book. Suffice to say that it's potent, darkly beautiful, and revelatory."—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and By Nightfall
"Powerful.... Seen entirely through Jack's eyes and childlike perceptions, the developments in this novel--there are enough plot twists to provide a dramatic arc of breathtaking suspense--are astonishing.... Donoghue brilliantly portrays the psyche of a child raised in captivity...will keep readers rapt."—Publishers Weekly
"a novel so disturbing that we defy you to stop thinking about it, days later.... This blend of allegory and true crime (Donoghue has said she was influenced by several recent news stories) is beautifully served by Jack's wise but innocent voice.... And while a first-person, child-narrated tale can sometimes feel like a gimmick, the enviable trick here is that Donoghue makes you want to stay with Ma and Jack, whether they're in their own private prison or out in the so-called free world."—Sara Nelson, O Magazine
"a bravura performance"—ELLE
"Only a handful of authors have ever known how to get inside the mind of a child and then get what they know on paper. Henry James, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and, more recently, Jean Stafford and Eric Kraft come to mind, and after that one gropes for names. But now they have company. Emma Donoghue's latest novel, Room, is narrated by a 5-year-old boy so real you could swear he was sitting right beside you.... Room is so beautifully contrived that it never once seems contrived. But be warned: once you enter, you'll be Donoghue's willing prisoner right down to the last page."—Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
"one of the most affecting and subtly profound novels of the year"—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"a riveting, powerful novel.... Donoghue's inventive storytelling is flawless and absorbing. She has a fantastic ability to build tension in scenes where most of the action takes place in the 12-by-12 room where her central characters reside. Her writing has pulse-pounding sequences that cause the reader's eyes to race over the pages to find out what happens next.... Room is likely to haunt readers for days, if not longer. It is, hands down, one of the best books of the year."—Liz Raftery, The Boston Globe
"remarkable.... Jack's voice is one of the pure triumphs of the novel: in him, she has invented a child narrator who is one of the most engaging in years - his voice so pervasive I could hear him chatting away during the day when I wasn't reading the book. Donoghue rearranges language to evoke the sweetness of a child's learning without making him coy or overly darling; Jack is lovable simply because he is lovable.... This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses - psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live."
—Aimee Bender, The New York Times Book Review