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Award-winning Irish novelist refuses to allow Israel publisher to translate work to Hebrew

Sally Rooney, novelist, at the Hay Festival on May 28, 2017 in Hay on Wye, United Kingdom. [David Levenson/Getty Images]
Sally Rooney, novelist, at the Hay Festival on May 28, 2017 in Hay on Wye, United Kingdom. [David Levenson/Getty Images]

Best-selling and award-winning Irish novelist Sally Rooney has decided not to publish her new novel in Hebrew, saying she is supporting the cultural boycott of Israel, Haaretz and other media reports said yesterday.

Rooney's new novel Beautiful World, Where Are You? explores the life and romance of intellectual, urbane millennials and topped the New York Times bestseller list when it was published in September.

Modan Publishing House, which has published two books for Rooney, has told Haaretz that Rooney won't allow her new book to be published in Hebrew because she supports an Israel boycott and does not want to work with an Israeli publisher.

"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," she said in a statement.

"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."

Rooney, 30, has been open about her opposition to Israel, the newspaper said, pointing out that she was one thousands of artists to sign a letter in July accusing Israel of apartheid and calling for its international isolation following its May offensive on Gaza.

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The letter called for "an end to the support provided by global powers to Israel and its military; especially the United States," Haaretz reported, and for governments to "cut trade, economic and cultural relations."

The Daily Mail reported that Rooney is not the first prominent author to refuse to publish a book in Hebrew, noting that Alice Walker did not allow The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew in 2012.

Ireland has a history of pro-Palestinian sentiment, owing to what many Irish citizens see as a cultural link to their struggles against the British, the Daily Mail said.

Dublin's city council passed resolutions in 2018 endorsing a boycott of Israel and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

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