British Firm to Publish Controversial Novel

"The Jewel of Medina" by Sherry Jones, above, was canceled by Random House last month over concerns about an Islamic backlash. (By James Snook -- Associated Press)
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

A romantic novel about the prophet Muhammad that was canceled by Random House after critics said it could provoke Muslim anger has found an English-language publisher in Britain. Sherry Jones's "The Jewel of Medina" will be released next month by Gibson Square, the firm announced yesterday. The company also published memoirs by Sen. John S. McCain (R-Ariz.) and O.J. Simpson.

Random House was heavily promoting "The Jewel of Medina" this spring until a reviewer charged that its portrayal of Aisha, one of Muhammad's best-known wives, could insult Muslims and possibly spur violence. A Random House spokeswoman said she was unaware of another example of the publisher's halting release of a book because of such fears.

Jones has since found new publishers in Spain, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Germany and Brazil. In some places the book will come out next month, in others next spring, said Natasha Kern, the agent for Jones, a journalist based in Washington state. Kern said she plans to announce a U.S. publisher next week.

Serbian publisher BeoBook released a few hundred copies of the book last month, but halted distribution within days after protests from local Islamic leaders.

Gibson Square will release up to 20,000 English copies next month, said founder Martin Rynja.

-- Michelle Boorstein

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