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.
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.