literary journalism

Catherine Prasifka’s ‘None of This Is Serious’

There’s an Oulipian game I like to play when reviewing the work of young female Irish writers: can I avoid any reference to Sally Rooney? To my mind, it’s reductive to lump distinct voices together based solely on age, nationality and gender. Catherine Prasifka, as it happens, is the sister-in-law of the author-who-shall-not-be-named. A standing ovation, then, to her and her publicity team, for admirably resisting the temptation to ask Rooney for a blurb or even mentioning the connection in the marketing materials of her debut novel. “I kept the book as far away from her as possible,” Prasifka told the Irish Times. “She didn’t know I had a book until after I’d signed with my agent and she didn’t read it until after the book deal.”

Fortunately, Prasifka doesn’t need any sprinkling of Rooney’s fairy dust: she makes her own magic. In the seriously good None of This Is Serious, the 26-year-old author conveys what it’s like to be a young woman today navigating life in Dublin and online. Sophie is a recent university grad living at home and trying to figure out what comes next. Her friends, many of whom are moving abroad, seem to have it all worked out, as does Hannah, her high-achieving twin sister. Sophie, meanwhile, spends her days blasting out her CV, doom-scrolling, and texting two men; her nights out often end in binge drinking.

When a mysterious purple crack appears in the sky, “barbershop quartets are back and singing about the crack” and memes abound, but scientists can’t say what caused it or what effects it might have. It’s a clever device by Prasifka, who has an MLitt in fantasy, to capture ambient anxiety. “The whole world is fractured,” Sophie observes. “This crack is just one more thing on the list.” Amid the panic and meta-analysis about the panic, life continues, and eventually the news cycle moves on: “the apocalypse came and went”…

Read the full review online at the Irish Times

You Might Also Like