Irish writer Sally Rooney said on Tuesday that she would not allow the Israeli publishing house that had her previous novels to publish her latest book, The Wonderful World Where You Are, because of her support for the Palestinian people and her boycott of property rights. and the movement for sanctions.
In an email, Ms. Rooney said she is proud that her first two books, Normal People and Conversations with Friends, were published in Hebrew. “Likewise, I would be honored to translate my latest novel into Hebrew and make it available to Hebrew-speaking readers,” she said. “But for now, I have decided not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli publisher.”
She added that she knew some would disagree with her decision, “but I just don’t think it would be right for me under the current circumstances to sign a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and does not support the UN. – the stipulated rights of the Palestinian people. “
Her Israeli publisher, Modan Publishing House, said in an email that when he asked about the book Beautiful World, Where Are You, which was published in English in September, she was told that she was not interested in publishing it in Israel. … He said no explanation was given.
In her email, Ms. Rooney cited a report released this year by Human Rights Watch that the Israeli government’s actions met the legal definition of apartheid, and she expressed her support for the BDS movement, which seeks to harness international political and economic relations. pressure on Israel. Supporters say the BDS movement’s goal is to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, while critics, including many Israelis, say its real goal is the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Ms. Rooney is not the first well-known author to turn down an offer to publish in Israel. In 2012, Alice Walker announced that she would not allow translation into Hebrew 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 that,” she added of Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians, “was much worse.”
Deborah Harris, a literary agent whose company works with major authors who want to be translated and published in Israel, called Ms. Rooney’s decision painful and counterproductive.
“When it’s ice cream, or when it’s cement, or whatever, it’s one thing, but when it comes to culture, it’s very, very difficult for me to see how it can be productive in changing anything,” said Ms Harris. said. “Literature must penetrate the hearts and minds of people.”
Ms Harris added that the people who are likely to read Ms Rooney’s work in Israel are not those who support the policies that she probably opposes. “Her audience here is people who fully support the Palestinian state,” Ms. Harris said.
Ms. Rooney’s new book explores the friendship of two young women: Eileen, the assistant editor of a literary magazine, and Alice, a writer whose career has skyrocketed to fame and success, much like Ms. Rooney’s.
In her statement, Ms Rooney said that in making the decision not to publish with Modan anymore, she was “responding to the call of Palestinian civil society” and she expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people “in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality. … “
She added that the rights to translate the novel into Hebrew 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 happy and proud of it.”