Behind the Franzen furor that marked the beginning of the month lurked the slow burn of another anticipated fall release: Emma Donoghue’s Room. This subtle, affecting story of parental love, which we excerpted here, is on the Booker Prize longlist and was one of our featured books for September, right alongside Freedom. After our thought-provoking interview with Donoghue, we asked her to share a little more about the writing process in a behind the book essay.
Behind the Book: The dark corners of research that inspired ‘Room’
I always knew I wanted my novel Room to work on two levels: as a universal, almost fairy-tale story about love between mother and son, and as a totally realistic child’s-eye account of being raised in a locked room that measures 11 foot by 11. To get the second bit right, I didn’t just read up on experiences similar to the one in my story—the roughly half-dozen young women who have survived lengthy, secret confinement, mostly famously in Austria and the US but also in Belgium, Japan and Russia. I followed my nose in many directions to understand, as deeply as I could, every aspect of what Ma and Jack might go through, both inside and outside their prison.
For my previous historical novels, I’ve mostly worked in university libraries; this time, my library was the Internet.
We’re giving away two copies of Room to lucky Book Case readers. Here’s how to enter to win: read the piece and come back and comment about what you think Donoghue’s most gruesome bit of research was before this Friday, September 17.