the industry

Sally Rooney Won’t Let Israel-Based Publisher Translate Her Latest Book

Photo: Richard Kendal/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Sally Rooney’s third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, is already an international best seller, but it has now hit a snag. After a report by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Rooney would not let the book be translated to Hebrew as a way of supporting the pro-Palestinian boycott of Israel, the Irish writer gave a statement to the Guardian and other outlets expanding upon her decision. Rooney confirmed that she has “chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house” after Modan Publishing House previously translated her books Conversations With Friends (published in 2017) and Normal People (published in 2018) to Hebrew. Rooney said she made the choice as part of the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement to boycott “complicit Israeli companies and institutions in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations.” She continued, “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.”

Rooney’s decision prompted some confusion. The initial Haaretz report credited Rooney’s move to a boycott, but a spokesperson for Modan since told the Washington Post that the company did not receive clarification on Rooney’s declining the translation. “When we asked about her third book, the answer was that she is not interested to publish it in Israel,” the spokesperson said. A since-updated essay for the Jewish publication the Forward, first published on October 11, initially misconstrued Rooney’s decision as a boycott of the Hebrew language. But in her statement, Rooney has also clarified that she would welcome a Hebrew translation of Beautiful World that did not compromise her boycott. “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,” Rooney said. “In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

Sally Rooney Clarifies Hebrew Translation, Palestine Support