UK - Sally Rooney’s boycott of Israel publishers gets backing of 70 writers

Sally Rooney
Seventy notable writers and publishers including Rachel Kushner, Francisco Goldman and Eileen Myles have signed a letter supporting Irish novelist Sally Rooney in her refusal to have her third novel translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publisher.

The letter calls Rooney’s boycott of Israeli publishers “an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.”

Rooney published her newest novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” in September, but wouldn’t accept an offer to sell the Hebrew translation rights to Modan, the Israeli publisher responsible for putting out her first two novels in Israel. She said she was refusing to do further business with Modan out of support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, a Palestinian initiative against Israeli rule.

In response, Israel’s largest booksellers decided to remove Rooney’s earlier novels from their shelves. The two books, which were popular in Israel, will no longer be available in the 200 retail locations of bookstores chains Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim nor on the chains’ websites.

On Nov. 22, a pro-Palestinian group called Artists for Palestine UK announced it had organized a letter of support for Rooney with a list of signatories from the United States and Great Britain.

“Like her, we will continue to respond to the Palestinian call for effective solidarity, just as millions supported the campaign against apartheid in South Africa,” the letter said. “We will continue to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

In defending Rooney, the letter said that Modan markets texts published by Israel’s Ministry of Defense and cited a Human Rights Watch report from April that Israel is guilty of instituting a regime of “apartheid.

Full list of 70 signatories:

Maan Abu Taleb, writer

Hanan Al-Shaykh, writer

Tariq Ali, writer, broadcaster

Monica Ali, writer

Suad Amiry, writer

Kevin Barry, writer

Ronan Bennet, writer, screenwriter

Nicholas Blincoe, writer

Season Butler, writer, artist

Carmen Callil, writer, publisher, critic

Niamh Campbell, writer

Caryl Churchill, playwright

Sarah Clancy, poet

Isabel Coixet, screenwriter

Robert Coover, writer

Molly Crabapple, writer, artist

Selma Dabbagh, writer

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, writer

Geoff Dyer, writer

Ben Ehrenreich, writer, journalist

Inua Ellams, writer, artist

Lynn Gaspard, publisher

Francisco Goldman, writer

David Harsent, poet

Seán Hewitt poet, critic

Rita Ann Higgins, poet

Rachel Holmes, writer

Brigid Keenan, writer

Hannah Khalil, playwright

Nancy Kricorian, writer

Rachel Kushner, writer

Paul Laverty, screenwriter

Ed Luker, poet

Sabrina Mahfouz, poet, playwright

Emer Martin, writer

Ahmed Masoud, writer

Tessa McWatt, writer

Pauline Melville, writer

Lina Meruane, writer

China Miéville, writer

Dana Naomy Mills, writer

Pankaj Mishra, writer

Michel S Moushabeck, publisher

Eileen Myles, poet

Karthika Nair, poet

Courttia Newland, writer, screenwriter

Andrew O’Hagan, writer

John Oakes, publisher

Nii Ayikwei Parkes, writer, editor, curator

Vijay Prashad, historian, editor

Alexandra Pringle, publisher

Keith Ridgway, writer

David Riker, screenwriter

Bruce Robbins, writer, scholar

Colin Robinson, publisher

Andrew Ross, writer

Joe Sacco, cartoonist, journalist

Sapphire, writer

James Schamus, screenwriter

Kamila Shamsie, writer

Jack Shenker, writer

Rick Simonson, bookseller

Gillian Slovo, writer

Ahdaf Soueif, writer

Jacques Testard, publisher

V playwright, performer

William Wall, writer

Naomi Wallace, playwright, screenwriter

Eliot Weinberger, writer

Penny Woolcock, screenwriter, director