Sally Rooney refuses to sell translation rights to Israeli publisher

Irish writer Sally Rooney said on Tuesday she would not allow the Israeli publishing house that covered her previous novels to publish her most recent book, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” because of her support for the Palestinian people and the Boycott. Divestment and Sanction Movement.

In an email, Ms Rooney said she was proud that her first two books, “Normal People” and “Conversations With Friends,” have been published in Hebrew. “Likewise, it would be an honor for me to translate my latest novel into Hebrew and make it available to readers in Hebrew,” she said. “But for now, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israel-based publishing house.”

She added that she knew some would disagree with her decision, “but I just don’t think it would be right under the current circumstances for me to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that is not publicly distancing itself from it.” apartheid and the UN. -certain rights of the Palestinian people.”

Her Israeli publisher, Modan Publishing House, said in an email that when it inquired about “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” which was published in English in September, she was told she was not interested in publishing it in Israel. to publish. He said no explanation was given.

In her email, Ms. Rooney quoted a report published this year by Human Rights Watch stating that the Israeli government’s actions meet the legal definition of apartheid, and expressed her support for the BDS movement, which aims to reduce international political and economic pressure on Israel. Supporters say the goal of the BDS movement is to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, while critics, including many Israelis, say the real goal is the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Ms Rooney’s decision was previously reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Ms. Rooney is not the first prominent author to turn down an offer to publish in Israel. Alice Walker said in 2012 that she would not allow a Hebrew translation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple.” Ms Walker, who was born in Georgia in 1944, said at the time, “I grew up under American apartheid and this,” she added of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, “was much worse.”

Deborah Harris, a literary agent whose company handles key authors seeking translation and publication in Israel, described Ms. Rooney’s decision as painful and counterproductive.

“Whether it’s ice cream or cement or whatever, it’s one thing, but when it comes to culture, I just find it really, really hard to see how this can be productive to change something,” Ms. Harris said. “What literature is supposed to do is reach the hearts and minds of people. ”

Those likely to read Ms Rooney’s work in Israel, Ms Harris added, are not those who support the policies she is likely to object to. “Her audience here are people who fully support a Palestinian state,” Ms Harris said.

Mrs. Rooney’s books have been both critically and commercially successful. Her second novel, ‘Normal People’, was long-listed for the Booker Prize and made into a film by BBC Three and Hulu, for which Ms Rooney was nominated for an Emmy. A TV series based on ‘Conversations With Friends’ is expected to be released next year. All this quickly reached Mrs. Rooney. The author, 30, is sometimes described as more famous than the books she wrote, or as the first great millennial novelist.

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” follows the friendship of two young women, Eileen, an editorial assistant at a literary magazine, and Alice, a novelist whose career quickly became famous and successful, just as Mrs. Rooney did. The book has been on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction for four weeks.

In her statement, Ms Rooney said that by making this decision not to republish with Modan, she “responded to the call of Palestinian civil society”, and that she expressed her solidarity with the Palestinian people “in their fight for freedom.” , justice and equality.”

She added that the Hebrew translation rights for the novel are still available, and that if she can find a way to sell them and adhere to the guidelines of the BDS movement, “I will be very pleased and proud to to do that.”

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