Emma Donoghue on Her New Novel, 'Room'

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Hockenberry and Emma Donoghue

The daily life of any young child is filled with creative observations of the world we wish we could recapture as adults. Author Emma Donoghue has managed to capture, to stunning effect, those creative perceptions from the perspective of a five-year-old boy named Jack, in her new novel, “Room.”

But the story begins in a deceptively dark place when we learn that Jack and his 27-year-old mother are trapped. They’re held captive by Jack’s father and have been since Jack was born.

Donoghue says although starting off a story with the premise of a kidnapping and story of captivity is a fairly unusual situation, this theme echoes many classic stories of captivity, from fairy tales like Rapunzel and Greek myths like the story of Danae and Perseus.  Those stories are part of an ancient notion of the enclosed virgin: the locked-away woman who gives birth to the hero child.  But Donoghue made sure to modernize that traditional storyline by setting the story in a modern context and narrating it through the eyes of five-year-old Jack.

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