Room is the Booker-nominated story of one five-year old, who has lived his life in captivity in a small room where his mother has been kept captive for seven years, their escape and first tentative steps into the “Outside”. It has echoes of real-life cases – it was quite apt that Natascha Kampusch was being interviewed on BBC Breakfast while I was reading it, after writing her own life story. One might expect this to be a depressing tale – and in many ways it does shine light on areas we may not necessarily want to confront, and we’re not quite sure whether it will be a happy ending. That said, it has a strong message about resilience, innocence, and how good can come from the most unexpected situations and experiences. The young boy Jack may not have social skills of normal five-year olds, but he has an incredible reading ability, and an innocence which shows up those around him.
Donoghue has a mock-up of the Room of the story on her own website, and it’s interesting to read how she was inspired by tales of people kept in confined spaces, and how she “mocked up” the room before writing about.
This is the first full-length novel that I’ve read not in a physical book format. I already have amazon kindle on my iPhone, and I discovered that I could download it onto my PC and download books from Amazon instantly. Such an ability is to enough to satisfy the most voracious reader impatient for something new. But…. It was reading but not as I’ve known it. There’s something different about not seeing and feeling the words on a page, and staring at a screen with no clear idea how many pages there are left to go.
And there’s a lingering guilt that somehow I may just be about to contribute to a declining industry and a form which has entertained me and inspired me. As I’ve read Philip Pullman saying recently though, it’s the book format that has lasted for centuries, and will be here long after technology fails. Hopefully, there’ll be room for both.
- AUDIO: Emma Donoghue finds child’s view in Room (cbc.ca)
- Much-anticipated tale of captivity delivers (boston.com)
- Room by Emma Donoghue | Book review (guardian.co.uk)
- Emma Donoghue’s restrained novel about two captives illuminates the power of parental love (theglobeandmail.com)
- Books Of the Times: A Captive’s View of Life, and He’s 5 (nytimes.com)
- Room with a panoramic view: How Emma Donoghue’s latest novel aims to tell a universal story (independent.co.uk)