None of This Is Serious is the debut novel from young Dubliner Catherine Prasifka.

It's a timely tale of female friendship and our obsession with being online... and the literary hot ticket of the season.

To celebrate its publication, we asked Catherine for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I've been a fan of Cartoon Saloon for a long time now. There is magic in the way they weave Irish fantasy. It is both firmly rooted in mythology and folklore, and yet also something entirely new. Their work is fully of complex themes, vivid characters, and stunning visuals. Their newest instalment does not disappoint in any regard. Wolfwalkers is a movie that can be appreciated by all audiences. It is meticulously layered with meaning and heart. It tells a beautifully nuanced story of friendship, loss, and prejudice.

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MUSIC

If there was any one thing that got me through the pandemic, it was Taylor Swift’s music. My life shrunk to nothing, my concentration was shot, I was unable to watch anything too 'gritty’ or violent for fear it would topple my already unstable mood. I craved familiarity above all else. Taylor Swift’s album Folklore came out at the perfect time for me. It was the summer of 2020, we were out of lockdown and not sure if we’d be plunged back in. I was just finishing the first draft of my debut novel. Folklore is an album full of escapist fantasies, vulnerable moments, and that particular kind of condensed mania we all felt during lockdown. I remember listening to it and thinking, ‘well if she can make this during the pandemic, I can finish my book’.

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BOOK

Recommending a single book is a tough task for a novelist! I have so many books I turn to for different things, and so many books that have been important to be at different times in my life. One book I think everyone should read is Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch. It’s a book about internet linguistics and how the internet has changed the way we speak to each other. As everything went online over the last two years I found myself wondering more and more about human communication, and this book as a few answers to questions I wasn’t even sure how to ask. I still think about it every time I send an emoji.

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PLAY

Live theatre is something I really missed during the lockdowns. There is a particular magic that happens on stage, when all disbelief is suspended and you are transported to another world. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t seen a play in years. Something I’m hoping to remedy soon. The most impactful play I ever saw was The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was put on in the Abbey in 2012. I was still in school and went with my family. I loved the book, and the play was excellent.

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TELEVISION

Lovesick is a show with a premise that does not do the nuance of its themes and relationships justice. It’s one of the few shows I’ve watched all the way through multiple times, and each time I find something new to love about it. It’s a non-chronological story about a group of friends living in Glasgow. It’s a simple story, about friendship and falling in love with the wrong people at the right times, or the right people at the wrong times.

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GIG

Gigs are, again, something I haven’t been able to go to in years. However, there is one I’ve spent the last two years thinking of. I was visiting my grandmother in Los Angeles in October 2019. I had just started what would be the first draft of my debut novel, and a global pandemic was something I couldn’t even conceptualise. On impulse, I looked up gigs happening at the weekend, and saw the Jonas Brothers were performing at the Hollywood Bowl. (I was a huge fan when I was a teenager). I went to the concert alone, a group of women in the row behind me shared their wine with me, and it was a perfect evening. When I think of that time now, I think about the past rising up to meet the present, and the future that seemed intangible that was stopped in its tracks anyway.

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ART

Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul, in Roppongi, Tokyo. I’ve spent a lot of the last two years reflecting on my past experiences. In many ways, trying to be creative during the pandemic meant going through my life with a fine-toothed comb, trying to find something new to think about, something to spark a little bit of creativity. During the spring and summer of 2017 I was doing a semester abroad at the University of Tokyo. It was an amazing time in my life. The first solo excursion I made out of the university campus was to this exhibition, once I was sure I knew how to operate the trains. I queued in the blazing heat, and got free entry with my student card. I was already familiar with Yayoi Kusama’s work, but nothing prepared me for how spectacular the exhibition would be, or how I would feel walking around it.

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PODCAST

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I normally go for one long walk a day, and use the time to get in my daily listening. There are a few honourable mentions here (You’re Wrong About, The Irish Passport, Motherfoclóir), but I think the one that has made the biggest impact on my life so far is Maintenance Phase. In each episode, the hosts debunk diet fads and wellness scams. It is genuinely scary how our society is orientated around thinness, and how unaware of it we are. It many ways it is seen as ‘normal’ and we uncritically accept it. This podcast takes the time to stop and explain how bananas it all is. It has changed how I think about my own body, and society as a whole.

TECH

More and more, it feels like my experience of technology revolves entirely around social media. I open and close the same four or five apps every day. It makes me miss the pre-social internet, where stumbling upon a website was like an adventure. I’m trying to disentangle my life from social media, which is difficult. I’ve trained my brain to want to be online. So, I have a subscription to the New York Times games. Everyday I do crossword on my laptop, and then their Spelling Bee. I find it gives me brain something to mull over as I start to wake up, and it gives me a website to navigate to when I’m bored and looking for something to do.

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THE NEXT BIG THING...

I’m a bit of a pessimist, so I have to steer myself away from answering things like ‘climate change’ or ‘growing inequality’ or whatever apocalypse is hiding just around the corner. Instead, I’m going to go with something I hope will happen. I am interested in how we can create art that represents the fast-changing and seemingly unstable way we live our lives. When reality is hard to grasp and unpredictable, it’s hard to filter out any meaning. I think every genre and art form is developing its own way of talking about this feeling. I hope that we will begin to see more cross-pollination across art practices, as each medium draws from the conventions of another in order to create something new.

None of This Is Serious by Catherine Prasifka is published by Canongate on April 7th 2022.