Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gutless Random House Caves In To HINT of Muslim Threats

First Amendment not worth the hassle to world's largest publishing corporation.

From publishing industry newsletter, Publisher's Lunch:

More From Author of Cancelled Novel
We've heard from Sherry Jones, author of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, the novel
cancelled by Ballantine covered in yesterday's Lunch.

Jones tells us that "because of my termination agreement with Random
House, I am prohibited from commenting on the circumstances surrounding
that termination." But from her perspective, "Despite Random House's
statement, I'm not aware of any warnings of possible terrorist attack
from any other source than Denise Spellberg. I know that Shahed
Amanullah's email had nothing to do with any of this, because I was the
one who discovered it, and the resulting discussion, on the Husaini
Youths website.

"Although I've been aware from the start that my books might offend some
people, I've never been afraid of physical harm because of them. I wrote
these books because I felt called to write them after researching A'isha
for my own purposes. My passion for her story trumps the fear factor.
I've expected controversy, yes, but never terrorism."

Separately, Jones writes on her blog that "all I did was try to portray
A'isha, Muhammad's child bride (believed by most historians to have
married Muhammad at age nine and consummated the marriage at age 11) in
the context of her times."

As to Spellberg's charge that the novel is "soft porn," Jones replies:
"There are no sex scenes in this book. The novel, whose bibliography
includes 29 scholarly and religious books, is a work of serious historic
fiction detailing the origins of Islam through the eyes of the Prophet
Muhammad's youngest wife. It's a book about women's relationships and
experiences at a time in history when a religion was being founded in
the midst of conflict."

Separately, agent Natasha Kern says that she will have news of foreign
rights sales for the book to announce shortly.

Random House supplied us with their full statement to the Wall Street Journal,
and deputy publisher Tom Perry "underscore[s] that our decision was
not based solely on the opinions of Ms. Spellberg."

The publisher says that after distributing galleys of the book, they
received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not
only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the
Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a
small, radical segment.

"We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously. We consulted
with security experts as well as with scholars of Islam, whom we asked to
review the book and offer their assessments of potential reactions.

"We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free
discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some.
However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it
also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to
postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House,
booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of
the novel." As reported, both parties subsequently agreed to terminate the publishing agreement.


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