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One of Bustle's Best Books of 2020!
An unforgettable story of a fiercely original young woman, whose radical perspective illuminates a new way of being in the world
As a full moon rises over Melbourne, Australia, a young woman gets ready for a party. And what appears to be an ordinary night out is--through the prism of her singular perspective--extraordinary. As the evening unfolds, each encounter she has reveals the vast discrepancies between what she is thinking and feeling, and what she is able to say. And there's so much she'd like to say. So when she meets a man and a genuine connection occurs, it's nothing short of a miracle. However, it isn't until she invites him home that we come to appreciate the humanity beneath the labels we cling to, and we can grasp the pleasure of what it means to be alive.
The debut novel from the inimitable Madeleine Ryan, A Room Called Earth is a humorous and heartwarming adventure inside the mind of a bright and dynamic woman. This hyper-saturated celebration of love and acceptance, from a neurodiverse writer, is a testament to moving through life without fear, and to opening ourselves up to a new way of relating to one another.
About the Author
Madeleine Ryan is an Australian writer, director and author. Her articles and essays have appeared in SBS, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, Vice, Bustle, Lenny Letter, and the New York Times, and she is currently working on the screen adaptation of A Room Called Earth. Madeleine lives in rural Victoria.
“A Room Called Earth is visceral and voluptuous . . . Ultimately, the book is a quiet celebration of holding dear to the space within yourself and if you look beyond your skin, how earth itself can bring comfort and wonder.” —The Sydney Morning Herald
“For the narrator, feelings are an end in themselves . . . Good, bad, confusing: it’s all input, she sweeps you up in her enthusiasm . . . ‘Why are you still here?’ Ryan’s narrator is asked, and the character responses: ‘It’s just . . . where I am.’ Sometimes it’s worth meeting someone where they’re at. In this case, I much enjoyed the view.” —Naoise Dolan, The Irish Times
"Twenty-four sparkling hours in the life of a neurodiverse woman on a night out to a party." —The Millions
“[A] novel that beautifully shatters myths and stereotypes about people considered neurodiverse while celebrating their differing perspectives on life.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Debut novelist Madeleine Ryan is also on the autism spectrum, and it is an absolute joy to read about this night through her eyes - where the protagonist's thoughts can't always match her actions, and where connection is all that matters. A Room Called Earth's greatest strengths are its simplicity and honesty.”—Bitch Magazine
"In the vein of Virginia Woolf, the narrator’s incisive commentary pierces through descriptions of quotidian affairs...A Room Called Earth, written by a neurologically diverse author, culminates in unexpected intimacy, not only between the narrator and her new friend but also between the reader and an extraordinary mind." —BookPage
“Ryan's novel covers less than 24 hours, but by book’s end, readers are left feeling remarkably bonded with this fiercely independent young woman . . . Her sharp, unfiltered thoughts—compellingly presented by Australian director and debut novelist Ryan, who herself is #OwnVoices neurodiverse—never seem to pause as she skips between describing her present and divulging her past, meticulously processing her actions, and regarding herself and others from unexpected perspectives . . . Her piercing insight is relentless.” —Booklist
“Though Ryan, who is autistic, never explicitly labels her narrator autistic or neuroatypical, much of the novel’s appeal comes from its illustration and examination of the narrator’s blunt perspective on life and specifically social interaction . . . the narrator’s voice and perspective are beguiling . . . Ryan’s ability to convey her narrator's unique perspective makes it a worthwhile read.” —Kirkus
"[V]ibrant and revealing. Ryan succeeds in capturing neurodiversity on the page." —Publishers Weekly
“In prose filled with humor and warm light, Madeleine Ryan unearths the bright, luminous soul of each animate and inanimate being she encounters. Instead, remarkably, it is the self shaped by and against social norms that is met as an other. The result is an intelligence that feels not only totally refreshing and original but wonderfully humane.” —Meng Jin, author of Little Gods
“A Room Called Earth offers a strikingly unique look at intimacy, identity, and time itself. From now on I want every novel to be this fiercely authentic, this assured, this untethered from the status quo. Madeleine Ryan is a wholly original writer; this debut announces a tremendous talent.” —Kimberly King Parsons, National Book Award-nominated author of Black Light
“A resolute deep dive into an inner self, a transcendent character study, and a timely reminder that there’s an entire universe inside of everyone we meet. You will be moved.” —Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook
"The narrator's voice is astute, clear and strong as the vodka she likes, as luminous as sparkling stars. Madeleine Ryan has created a marvelous woman and a joyous story." —Shelf Awareness