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Emma Donoghue biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue

How to pronounce Emma Donoghue: don-a-hue

Emma Donoghue Biography

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, Emma Donoghue is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic). She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin (unfortunately, without learning to actually speak French). She moved to England, and in 1997 received her PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, she has earned her living as a writer, and has been lucky enough to never have an 'honest job' since she was sacked after a single summer month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner Chris Roulston and their son Finn (15) and daughter Una (11).

Donoghue is best known for her fiction, which has been translated into over forty languages. Her novels for adults include Slammerkin (2001), Landing (2007), The Sealed Letter (2008), Room (2010), Frog Music (2014), The Wonder (2016), and Akin (2019). She has also published four collections of short stories, several plays and screenplays, and a series for middle-grade readers called The Lotterys (2017-2018).

Emma Donoghue's website

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Interview

An Interview with Emma Donoghue about her 2010 award-winner, Room.

Jack is such a unique narrator. At what point did you decide to tell the story from his perspective?

I never considered any other perspective: letting Jack tell this story was my idea in a nutshell. I hoped having a small child narrator would make such a horrifying premise original, involving, but also more bearable: his innocence would at least partly shield readers on their descent into the abyss. I also knew that Jack would have some interesting things to say about our world, as a newcomer to it; the book's satire of modern mores and media, and interrogations of the nature of reality, grew out of Jack's perspective rather than being part of my initial plan. I did have some technical worries about having such a young narrator: I knew the prospect of being stuck in a little kid's head might turn some readers off. But I never feared that Jack would be unable to tell the whole story.

How did you manage to get so thoroughly into the mind-set of a five-year-old boy?


It was a help that my own son was five, but it's not like Finn and Jack have much in common: Finn has been as shaped by sociability and freedom as Jack has by routine and one-to-one time with his mother. I tried to isolate ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Emma Donoghue at BookBrowse
Akin jacket The Wonder jacket Frog Music jacket Astray jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Emma Donoghue but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • David Almond

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    David Almond, in his own words:

    I was born in Newcastle and I grew up in a big Catholic family in Felling-on-Tyne. I had four sisters and a brother and lots of relatives in the streets nearby. My dad had been in Burma ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Room

    Try:
    The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean
    by David Almond

  • Clare Beams

    Clare Beams

    Clare Beams is the author of the story collection We Show What We Have Learned, which won the Bard Prize and was a Kirkus Best Debut of 2016, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the New York Public ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Wonder

    Try:
    The Illness Lesson
    by Clare Beams

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