Sally Rooney: “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”

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16/10/2021 by socialistfight

By Angela J Byrne

At 27 Sally Rooney became the youngest-ever winner of the Costa Book Prize in January 2019. She has been hailed as “the first great millennial novelist”, and a “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”. She won the Royal Society of Literature’s £10,000 Encore Award for best second novel of the year as well as being longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. It was voted as the 2018 Waterstones’ Book of the Year and she won “Best Novel” at the 2018 Costa Book Awards, at 27 she was the youngest-ever winner. In 2019, the novel was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She beat Michelle Obama to book of the year at the British Book Awards. She was born in 1991 in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland and still lives there with her husband, John Prasifka.

She has now hit the headlines because she has refused to allow Israel-based publisher Modan to translate her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You into Hebrew in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians and in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Because she is a self-proclaimed Marxist, she is despised by the mass media. The liberal-reactionary Guardian newspaper leads the way, as they did in their lying attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, opening up the field for the far right mass media, led, of course, by the Daily Mail, whose support for fascism in the 1934 was proclaimed by Viscount Rothermere’s headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”.

Writing in The Guardian on May 5, 2020, Jessa Crispin, who, like Polly Toynbee and other Guardian writers, is liberal in every way except when faced with Marxism and the danger of revolution, wrote that “Normal People is little more than a gutless soap opera for millennials…The series adapted from the Sally Rooney novel is a tedious reworking of a romance plot as old as time. I’d rather read an honest bodice-ripper.” So much for the world’s art critics!

This was a signal for the Daily Mail to let rip. Harriet Johnston, writing for the for MailOnline on 13 October 2021 commented,

“From floating the idea that ‘the world ceased to be beautiful after the fall of the Soviet Union’ to deconstructing the class system, bestselling author Sally Rooney’s novels are a lot more political than their racy reputation suggests. In Normal People, which Sally once described as a ‘Marxist love story’, Connell and Marianne read Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto and attend a protest against Israel during the 2014 Gaza War. Meanwhile, in her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You, the main characters Alice and Eileen discuss how ‘the world ceased to be beautiful after the fall of the Soviet Union.’ Dublin-based Rooney (she isn’t—AB) has previously said she wanted Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister of the UK.”

She was involved in a successful campaign to stop the BNP leader Nick Griffin speaking at a Trinity College debating society in 2012, Harriet informs us, and “gave an interview to the Irish Independent in which she slated WB Years. She said: ‘I hate Yeats! A lot of his poems are not very good, but some are obviously okay. But how has he become this sort of emblem of literary Irishness when he was this horrible man?  He was a huge fan of Mussolini, he was really into fascism, he believed deeply in the idea of a ‘noble class’ who are superior by birth to the plebs. ‘He wasn’t just this harmless weirdo who wrote poetry. People misinterpret him in this country, and when we’re taught about him in school, it’s just hagiography.”

Of course, the Mail readers were outraged by all this, but I grew ever fonder of her politics as I read on.

Brendan O’Neill’s vomit

But it’s Spiked and Brendan O’Neill who really go over the top in attacking her. This Red-Brown neo-fascist, transphobic  Spiked online magazine is run by former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, some of whom are now top advisers to Boris Johnson. Munira Mirza, for example, heads Johnson’s policy unit and was his deputy mayor for arts for eight years. She was a supporter of the RCP and wrote for Living Marxism, and then became a libertarian reactionary writing for Spiked. Some of us recognised them as libertarian bigots back then.

This is O’Neill’s vomit:

“If it is true that Sally Rooney is refusing to allow her latest novel to be translated into Hebrew, then that’s a new low for the anti-Israel set. It crosses the line from taking a political stand into territory that is much darker and more dangerous… It is still unclear whether Ms Rooney objects to a Hebrew translation full stop, or whether she is just saying she doesn’t want the novel to be produced by an Israeli publisher, in Israel.

The last claim is a complete slanderous lie, as she herself has made it quite clear in her statement:

“Firstly, I was very proud to have my previous two novels translated into Hebrew by Katya Benovits. I would like to thank everyone involved in the publication of those books for supporting my work. 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 those translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.

“Earlier this year, the international campaign group Human Rights Watch published a report entitled ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’. That report, coming on the heels of a similarly damning report by Israel’s most prominent human rights organisation B’Tselem, confirmed what Palestinian human rights groups have long been saying: Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.”

But O’Neill will have none of it:

“The idea is that we must agitate for Israel to be de-normalised, for this pesky, evil state to be deprived of Western funding, to be culturally boycotted and even to be sanctioned, as a rebuke for its mistreatment of the Palestinian people.

“This has led to some despicable scenes in the UK and the US in recent years: the booing of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Proms; the cancellation of an Israeli-produced hip-hop opera at the Edinburgh Fringe; the jeering, harassment and No Platforming of speakers from Israel in certain universities; the removal of Israel-produced food from shop shelves. It’s from the Jewish State? Then bin it, ban it, shout it down. This is the singular, dubious motivation of the BDS mob.”

Rooney has made it perfectly clear:

“The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so,” Rooney winds up her statement.

It really does take a special talent to turn around a principled stance against the racist, apartheid oppression of the Palestinians by Israel into a racist antisemitic attack on all Jews, as O’Neill does here. In my opinion that’s libellous.

Spiked have recruited Julie Burchill, a self-described  Christian Zionist because no one else will now publish her filth. Here is just some of it, if you have a strong stomach:

“I never even voted for Mrs Thatcher, though I found her fascinating… Voting Labour always seemed, for me as a working-class woman, not just the sensible but the decent thing to do. But, as in the trusty old cautionary tale Animal Farm (which Labour appears to have taken as an operation manual), how things have changed.

As one JP Holzer summed it up on Twitter: “‘The party has become an abomination. Hates women, hates Jews, hates working class. And all managed in last 10 years.’ “The Nasty Party (Tories) has somehow mutated into a racially diverse, fiscally generous, pro-proletarian, women’s rights-supporting party – the Labour Party is now the Party of Hate… How did Labour come to attract such a misogynistic, Jew-hating, prole-baiting gaggle of freaks? Of course, they were always there with their Palestine flags and their Holocaust denial.

Burchill wrote a book with Chas Newkey-Burden, Not in My Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy, in August 2008. It is dedicated “to Arik and Bibi” (Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu). According to Gerald Jacobs, writing for The Jewish Chronicle in 2008, “this book does not merely stand up for Israel, it jumps up and down, cheers and waves its arms”. The newspaper described her as “Israel’s staunchest supporter in the UK media”. When asked if Israel has any flaws, she responded: “Yes. They are much too tolerant of their freaking neighbours, too reasonable”.

She declared in 2005, after Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, that “Israel is the only country I would fucking die for. He’s the enemy of the Jews. Chucking his own people off the Gaza; to me that’s disgusting”.

In 2002 she described Ireland in the Guardian as being synonymous with child molestation, Nazi-sympathising, and the oppression of women”. In 2003 she said the Irish flag was “the Hitler-licking, altar boy-molesting, abortion-banning Irish tricolour”. Burchill had expressed anti-Irish sentiment several times throughout her career, announcing in the London journal Time Out in 1984 that “I hate the Irish, I think they’re appalling”.

Now how did this woman escape prosecution for such explicit racist remarks? ▲

Burchill was sacked by the Telegraph for a racist tweet about Harry and Megan: “What a missed opportunity! They could have called it Georgina Floydina!” That is a contempteous reference to the black man George Floyd, murdered on 25 May 2020 by the police in Minneapolis

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