Sally Rooney: Hebrew translation is ok but not by Israeli publisher

Sally Rooney originally stated that she would not allow her new book, 'Beautiful World, Where Are You' to be translated in Hebrew.

 Author Sally Rooney poses for a photograph ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Costa Book Awards 2018 in London, Britain, January 29, 2019 (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
Author Sally Rooney poses for a photograph ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Costa Book Awards 2018 in London, Britain, January 29, 2019
(photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

Bestselling US author Sally Rooney said she decided not to publish her latest novel with an Israeli publishing house because she supports a boycott of Israel, but added that a non-Israeli press could still publish the book in Hebrew.

Rooney’s statement, made on Tuesday, confirms a report by Haaretz last month that Rooney declined to sell Hebrew publishing rights for her new book, Beautiful World, Where Are You, to Modan Publishing House, an Israeli press that published her first two novels in Hebrew.

JTA and others this week characterized Rooney’s decision not to work with Modan as a decision not to allow her critically acclaimed book to be translated into Hebrew at all. Rooney said that is not true.

“It would be an honor for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers,” the statement said. “But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.”

Whether that’s possible is unclear: The Hebrew-language publishing industry is centered in Israel, the only country where Hebrew is an official language.

Illustrative image of booksIllustrative image of books

Rooney, 30, the Irish author of the acclaimed 2018 novel Normal People, has been called one of the world’s premier millennial authors. Her books have topped bestseller charts, gotten television deals and been praised for their depiction of urbane millennial life and romance.

She had expressed her support for the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS, in July, when she was one of thousands of artists to sign a letter urging an end to international aid to Israel as well as “trade, economic and cultural relations.”