Sally Rooney defends decision to block Hebrew translation of new book

The author’s previous two novels were translated by Israel-based Modan.
Sally Rooney defends decision to block Hebrew translation of new book

By Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Sally Rooney has defended her decision not to sell the translation rights to her new book to an Israeli-based publishing house, saying she wants to express her solidarity with the “Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality”.

The acclaimed Irish author, 30, said in a statement she felt unable to work with Modan, describing it as a company “that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people”.

Her third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, was published in September and quickly became a bestseller in the UK and Ireland.

Normal People
Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne and Paul Mescal as Connell in the BBC Three adaptation of Normal People (Enda Bowe/BBC/PA)

It centres on the romantic exploits of an award-winning Irish novelist called Alice Kelleher and explores themes common throughout Rooney’s writing including love, friendship and conflict surrounding social class.

Rooney’s first two novels – 2017’s Conversations With Friends and 2018’s Normal People – were both published in Hebrew by Modan.

The writer said in a statement she was “very proud” to have had her previous two novels translated, but for now she had “chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.

Rooney also expressed support for the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel.

 

She said: “Of course, many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses. This was also true of South Africa during the campaign against apartheid there.

“In this particular case, I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions.

“I understand that not everyone will agree with my decision, but I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.

“The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so.”

Normal People was adapted into a critically-acclaimed BBC Three series and a screen version of Conversations With Friends is in production.

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