The acclaimed Irish novelist turned down Modan, the Israeli publisher that translated her previous books, because of her outspoken views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Haaretz reported.
“When Modan approached Rooney’s agent in an attempt to sign another translation deal, the agent announced that Rooney supports the cultural boycott movement on Israel and therefore does not approve translation into Hebrew,” Haaretz reported as an addendum to its reprint of an interview Rooney gave last month.
Rooney’s agent, Tracy Bohan, confirmed that the author had declined the translation of “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” Haaretz said.
Modan confirmed that it would not be publishing the award-winning writer’s third novel, but declined to say whether this was due to a boycott, the Telegraph said.
She recently signed a so-called “Letter Against Apartheid” that called for “an end to the support provided by global powers to Israel and its military; especially the United States.” The open letter also urged governments to “cut trade, economic and cultural relations.”
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 17: Sally Rooney speaks onstage during the Hulu Panel at Winter TCA 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 17, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu) (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu)
In her second novel, “Normal People,” the main characters attend a protest against Israel’s role in the 2014 Gaza war, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency also noted.
The reported boycott immediately brought condemnation.
“Boycotting the Hebrew language — spoken by millions of Jews worldwide — has nothing to do with Palestine. It’s just racism,” tweeted Stephane Savary, a member of the National Council Vice-Presidents of the UK-based Zionist Federation.
Fellow author Ben Judah called it “depressing and unpleasant,” while critic Tomiwa Owolade called it “appalling.”
Political pundit Gerard Howlin, meanwhile, insisted, “Sally Rooney’s refusal to allow her new book be translated into Hebrew is book burning in another way.”
Literary scholar Gitit Levy-Paz wrote in Forward that “Rooney’s decision surprised and saddened me.”
“Rooney has chosen a path that is anathema to the artistic essence of literature, which can serve as a portal for understanding different cultures, visiting new worlds and connecting to our own humanity,” Levy-Paz wrote.
“Given the rise of antisemitism in recent years, especially in Europe, the timing of her choice is dangerous.”