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 Israeli bookstores pull Sally Rooney’s books in boycott row

by | Nov 8, 2021 | News

Books by Sally Rooney will no longer be sold in two Israeli bookshop chains, after the acclaimed writer’s decision not to sell translation rights for her most recent novel to an Israeli publisher. The move by the bookstores follows a backlash against Rooney’s decision.

Rooney received both praise and criticism last month when it came to light that she had turned down an offer from the Israeli publisher Modan to translate her book Beautiful World, Where Are You into Hebrew. In a statement, she explained that while she was “very proud” to have had her previous novels translated into Hebrew, she would not sell translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house for now, in order to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), a campaign that works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.

Last Thursday, bookstores Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim said they would remove Rooney’s books from their branches and online sites. The companies have more than 200 outlets across Israel.

It is the first such action by Israeli booksellers since it emerged last month that Rooney had turned down a bid by Israeli publisher Modan for the rights to translate her book ” Beautiful World, Where Are You.”

She said that while she was “very proud” that her two previous novels had been translated into Hebrew, “for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.

Rooney said it was out of solidarity with the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for a complete boycott of Israel. She could not, she said, “accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people”.

Rooney has received several book prizes in the UK, including The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017 and a Costa Book Award in 2018.

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