Sally Rooney refuses to allow new novel to be published in Hebrew over views on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

From the Telegraph and the Times. Sally Rooney is a young irish novelist and this new book is her third. I had never heard of her until last year when a previous book was made into a TV series.

All three of Rooney’s novels have been showered with praise by critics for her minimalist writing style and melancholy depiction of life in post-financial crisis Ireland. The novels also address tensions between Ireland’s working and middle classes. In the UK she has received four book awards, including Young Writer of the Year by the Sunday Times in 2017 and the Costa Book award in 2018.

As teenage angst as they discover love and sex is not really my thing I didn’t watch, or read.  But amongst the more upto date on the literary scene she has been well received. 

Sally Rooney, the acclaimed Irish author, has reportedly refused to allow her new novel to be published in Hebrew due to her views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The disclosure was made in a recent newspaper interview which said that Rooney had turned down a translation bid from Modan, an Israeli publisher, as she supports a boycott of Israel.

Rooney’s new novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, was released in September and quickly topped book charts in the UK and Ireland.

“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,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Gitit Levy-Paz, a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, wrote an article on the website Forward stating that Rooney’s decision “surprised and saddened me”. “I am a Jewish and Israeli woman, but I am also a literary scholar who believes in the universal power of art,” she wrote. “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. The very essence of literature, its power to bring a sense of coherence and order to the world, is negated by Rooney’s choice to exclude a group of readers because of their national identity. It goes without saying that Rooney has the right to express her views and criticise others — individuals, groups, peoples or nations. But a boycott, especially a cultural one, is among the most slippery of slopes.”

Ben Judah, a British author and journalist, also condemned the decision. “Depressing and unpleasant that Sally Rooney won’t allow her new novel to be translated into Hebrew,” he wrote on Twitter.

A spokesman for Modan confirmed that it would not be publishing Rooney’s third novel but declined to say whether this was due to a boycott, and instead referred The Telegraph to Rooney’s agent.

The Telegraph has not allowed comments but the Times has and the best recommended ones are heartening in their criticism of her sanctimonious narrow-mindedness.

* Will she also decline translation of her novels into Chinese and Russian?
That might actually involve some personal sacrifice

* Quite. It is another example of ‘Jews Don’t Count’

* This cultural boycott of Israel thing seems like such a profoundly unintelligent stance. It just reflects poorly on them as artists in my opinion.
yes, but it’s very fashionable.

* Let’s be clear, this is a boycott of Jewish people, not Israel.
Also it is making everyone who lives in a country or speaks that language a guilty party. It is stereotyping an ethnicity.

* We aren’t discussing her “criticising Israel”. We are discussing her refusing to allow her book to be translated into Hebrew and also signing up to the cultural boycott of Israel which includes such actions as well as refusing any interaction with Israeli writers, rabbis, academics, artists, musicians, librarians, film makers, journalists, however critical of Israel, in support of the institutionally antisemitic and child abusing Palestinian political cause.

* That is a blood libel. It never fails to shock me how casually people treat such allegations.

* And this is definitely not antisemitic. I know coz Jeremy told me!

Editor note: (See John Tangney’s piece on Rooney here