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Normal People author Sally Rooney ‘refused to publish her new book in Hebrew’

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An award-winning Irish writer has caused a stir after allegedly refusing to publish her new book in Hebrew.

Sally Rooney, 30, was asked by Israeli publisher Modan to translate her new book – Beautiful World, Where Are You – but the author is said to have turned down the request because she supports a boycott of Israel.

Miss Rooney’s new book was released in September and topped the charts in the UK and Ireland.

However, it was later reported that the author had rejected a translation of her book from Modan because of her views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sally Rooney, 30, was asked by Israeli publisher Modan to translate her new book – Beautiful World, Where Are You – but the author is said to have turned down the request.

The New York Times published Miss Rooney’s interview in September, but it was subsequently translated into Hebrew and published in more detail by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Haaretz reported: “When Modan approached Rooney’s agent in an attempt to sign another translation deal, the agent announced that Rooney supports the cultural boycott movement against Israel and therefore does not approve translation into Hebrew.”

Ms Rooney’s agent, Tracy Bohan, said the author had declined the translation when approached for comment, Haaretz said.

Miss Rooney’s two previous novels, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, have both been published in Hebrew by Modan.

Miss Rooney’s support for a boycott of Israel has seen her sign an open letter calling for “an end to the support given by the world powers to Israel and its military; especially the United States” and also urged governments to “sever trade, economic and cultural ties.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency also noted that in its second novel, Normal People, the main characters attend a protest against Israel’s role in the 2014 Gaza war.

Academic Gitit Levy-Paz highlighted the boycott disclosure in a blog post on the Forward website last night.

She wrote: ‘Rooney’s decision surprised and saddened me. I am a Jewish and Israeli woman, but I am also a literary scholar who believes in the universal power of art.’

Meanwhile, Ben Judah, a British author and journalist, wrote on Twitter: “Depressing and unpleasant that Sally Rooney will not allow her new novel to be translated into Hebrew.”

Miss Rooney’s three novels are known for their minimalist writing style and melancholic portrayal of life in Ireland after the financial crisis. Her work also focuses on tensions between the Irish working and middle classes.

She has won four book awards in the UK, including Young Writer of the Year by the Sunday Times in 2017 and the Costa Book Award in 2018.

Normal People, based on the on-again, off-again relationship between Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron during their childhood, was made into a critically acclaimed BBC series in 2020.

After the show’s success, Miss Rooney described the demise of fame.

Miss Rooney's Normal People was later adapted into a critically acclaimed BBC series in 2020

Miss Rooney’s Normal People was later adapted into a critically acclaimed BBC series in 2020

Beautiful World, Where Are You follows novelist Alice's life after she asks a distribution warehouse worker to travel to Rome with her

Beautiful World, Where Are You follows novelist Alice’s life after she asks a distribution warehouse worker to travel to Rome with her

She told The Guardian: “Of course that person can stop doing what they are good at, in order to withdraw from public life, but that seems like a great sacrifice on their part and an exercise in cultural self-destruction for the public.” rest of us, forcing talented people to either endure hell or keep their talents to themselves.

“I don’t think it’s merciless for people in those positions to speak out about how toxic this system is. It doesn’t seem to really work for anyone, except probably shareholders somewhere.’

Her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You follows the life of writer Alice after she asks a distribution warehouse worker to travel with her to Rome.

In 2018, Miss Rooney told The Daily Telegraph that she struggled to socialize while growing up, despite her newfound status as the voice of the so-called ‘millennial’ generation.

She said, “I found school extremely boring and as a teenager I often found social life quite mysterious… I wasn’t someone for whom it was easy to be charming.”

A spokesman for Modan told The Daily Telegraph it would not publish Rooney’s third novel, but declined to say whether it was due to a boycott.

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