Sally Rooney: why author snubbed Hebrew translation of ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’ from Israel publisher

Bestselling author of books including ‘Normal People’ said she would be ‘proud’ to have her new book published in Hebrew - statement in full

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Irish author Sally Rooney has confirmed she turned down a publications deal which would have seen her third book translated into Hebrew.

Rooney, 30, snubbed the offer due to her continued support of the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In a statement released on 12 October, the ‘Conversations with Friends’ author said her decision was to reject the contract with an Israeli publication which failed to “publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”

So, what did she say and will her book, ‘Beautiful world, where are you’ be translated into Hebrew? This is what we know so far.

The book will not be translated into Hebrew by Israeli publications (Picture: Waterstones)The book will not be translated into Hebrew by Israeli publications (Picture: Waterstones)
The book will not be translated into Hebrew by Israeli publications (Picture: Waterstones)

What did Rooney say about her snub of Israeli publications?

Sally Rooney’s full statement, which she provided to The Independent, read:

“Firstly, I was very proud to have my previous two novels translated into Hebrew by Katyah Benovits. I would like to thank everyone involved in the publication of those books for supporting my work. Likewise, it would be an honour for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers. But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.

“Earlier this year, the international campaign group Human Rights Watch published a report entitled ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’. That report, coming on the heels of a similarly damning report by Israel’s most prominent human rights organisation B’Tselem, confirmed what Palestinian human rights groups have long been saying: Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.

“The Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led, anti-racist and nonviolent grassroots campaign calling for an economic and cultural boycott of complicit Israeli companies and institutions in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations. It is modelled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.

“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. In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Thank you.”

What is her new book ‘Beautiful world, Where are you’ about?

Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award winner Rooney has published her third novel, succeeding Waterstones Book of the Year ‘Normal People,’ and ‘Conversations with Friends’.

The book’s synopsis reads: “Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.

“Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?”

It has been touted as “Rooney’s best novel,” by The Times and The New York Times, while the Irish Times described it as ‘Written with immense skill and illuminated by an endlessly incisive intelligence.’

You can buy it now at Waterstones for £14.99.

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