So far, Rooney has refused to sell Hebrew translation rights to her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You to Israeli publisher Modan, who translated her two previous novels. She later declared her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) which aims to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.
Rooney’s decision, while met with criticism, has been supported by several of her contemporaries including Monica Ali, China Mieville and Geoff Dyer.
In a letter organised by Artists for Palestine UK, the signed authors said Rooney’s refusal to sell the rights was an “exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians”.
The signees to the letter, which also included Courttia Newland and Andrew O’Hagan, wrote: “Palestinian artists have asked their international colleagues to end complicity in Israel’s violations of their human rights, and this for many of us is a clear ethical obligation. Sally Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with a mainstream Israeli publisher – which markets the work of the Israeli Ministry of Defence – is therefore an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.”
The letter also noted that Rooney was a signee of a petition calling for “an immediate and unconditional cessation of Israeli violence against Palestinians”.
The letter concludes by saying: “We will continue to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”
After Rooney’s decision to boycott Israeli publishing houses became public, the bestselling author said it would not be right to work with a company that “does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people”.
Rooney is best known for her novel Normal People, which was adapted by the BBC into a TV series last year.