IRISH AUTHOR Sally Rooney has found herself at the centre of a furore over translation rights for her latest novel ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’
The 30 year-old, originally from Castlebar Co. Mayo, was approached by Modan-Gefen Publishing House – described on their website as ‘Israel’s leading publishers’ – who revealed this week that their offer to translate Rooney’s work into Hebrew had been refused.
For her part, Rooney – who is also the author of the highly successful ‘Normal People’, which was adapted for TV by Hulu and BBC, as well as ‘Conversations With Friends’, which is due for adaptation later this year – explained her decision in a statement released on Tuesday:
“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 organization 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.”
She emphasised that her decision to refuse Modan-Gefen the rights to her new novel came as part of her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement who, similar to the anti-apartheid movement that protested against the South African regime in the 1980s, promote:
“[An] economic and cultural boycott of complicit Israeli companies and institutions in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations.”
Rooney was keen to point out that “Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights [in a way] that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so.”
Despite the rather measured clarification of her decision, Rooney has come under fire from conservative commentators and supporters of the Israeli regime, not least from The Daily Mail who accused the author of ‘peppering her novels with ideas’ as well as ‘naked double standards’ for continuing to publish in China – despite the fact that the country has no BDS equivalent.
The author was even accused of ‘impeding Middle East peace’ by the Israeli Government itself; a regime which has displaced more than 70,000 Palestinians as a result of military actions in 2021 alone.