Middle East Eye / November 5, 2021
Bookstores Steimatzky and Tzomet said they would be removing author’s works after she turned down Israeli publisher’s request to translate one of her books.
Two Israeli bookstores have said they will no longer be stocking works by Sally Rooney following the stir caused by the author’s decision to refuse a request by an Israeli publisher to translate one of her books.
In a statement on Thursday, bookstores Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim – two of Israel’s largest booksellers with more than 200 outlets across the country – said they would remove Rooney’s books from their branches and online sites.
Rooney, author of bestselling novel Normal People, last month rejected a Hebrew translation request of her new book Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Modan Publishing, as the company works in partnership with the Israeli government, producing and marketing books for the defence ministry.
The 30-year-old author said she had decided not to sell the translation rights to an Israel-based publisher due to her support for an economic and cultural boycott of Israeli companies and institutions complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights.
“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,” Rooney said.
In response, a spokesperson from Israel’s foreign ministry accused the author of being “narrow-minded” and “silencing opinion”.
However, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel “warmly welcomed” her decision.
In a lengthy statement last month, Rooney said that she was very proud to have her first two novels translated into Hebrew, but decided not to sell the rights to her third book to an Israeli publishing house.
She cited Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem reports, which she said confirmed that “Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law”.