Leading writers support Sally Rooney decision to refuse publication in Israel

Niamh Campbell, Kevin Barry, Rachel Kushner and Monica Ali among signatories

Sally Rooney. Photograph: Kalpesh Lathigra

Sally Rooney. Photograph: Kalpesh Lathigra

 

Seventy prominent writers, poets and playwrights have signed a letter endorsing Sally Rooney’s decision to decline a contractual offer with an Israel publishing house, describing it as “an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians”.

Among the signatories are Irish authors Niamh Campbell, Kevin Barry, Ronan Bennett, Keith Ridgway, Seán Hewitt, Rita Ann Higgins, Emer Martin and William Wall; Rachel Kushner, Eileen Myles and Eliot Weinburger from the US; Monica Ali, Caryl Churchill, China Miéville and Kamila Shamsie from the UK.

In May Rooney was one of more than 1,600 artists who “... condemned Israel’s crimes in A Letter Against Apartheid. Israeli apartheid, they said, was ’sustained by international complicity; it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’.”

Two bookshop chains with outlets both in Israel and in settlements in the occupied West Bank said they were pulling Rooney’s novels from their shops in retaliation. The signatories, including publishers Alexandra Pringle, Jacques Testard and Carmen Callil, affirmed their commitment to the Palestinian people, saying: “Like her [Rooney], 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 in full

As fellow writers, we wish to express our support for the novelist Sally Rooney.

Palestinian artists have asked their international colleagues to end complicity in Israel’s violations of their human rights, and this for many of us is a clear ethical obligation. Sally Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with a mainstream Israeli publisher – which markets the work of the Israeli Ministry of Defence – is therefore an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.

It is less than a year since Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel had ‘dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians’, amounting to the ‘crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution’. It is only a few months since the last bombing of Gaza, since the most recent incursion into the Al-Aqsa mosque and the new round of expulsion orders in occupied East Jerusalem.

This is the context of Sally Rooney’s decision. In making it, she is not alone. In May, she was one of more than 1600 artists who condemned Israel’s crimes in ‘A Letter Against Apartheid’. Israeli apartheid, they said, is ‘sustained by international complicity; it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’.

In supporting Sally Rooney, we reassert that responsibility. 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. We will continue to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

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

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