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Emma Donoghue: Room is not just an account of Josef Fritzl

13th August 2010

Emma Donoghue has refuted suggestions that her Man Booker Prize longlisted Room is inspired exclusively by the Josef Fritzl case.

In an interview with the Guardian, the author admitted that the case of the Austrian kidnapper 'put the idea' for the novel into her head, but asserted: 'To say Room is based on the Fritzl case is too strong. I'd say it was triggered by it.'

Donoghue added that hearing about Elisabeth Fritzl's five-year-old son being freed from his lifelong imprisonment with no concept of the outside world led to her writing the book, which follows the tale of a woman and child who are trapped in a shed for years.

'That notion of the wide-eyed child emerging into the world like a Martian coming to Earth - it seized me,' the writer told the newspaper.

In a recent review of Room in the Guardian, Darragh McManus questioned whether books based around horrific incidents are written to provoke shock in their readers or to spark controversy that leads to greater sales.

Responding, Donoghue denied writing her novel with commercial interest at heart and said it was 'painful' when critics starting labelling it a shallow moneymaking attempt.
 

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