"The Jewel of Medina," a heavily discussed debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones, has been surrounded by controversy and cancellations, rage and nattering, but, nevertheless, the day has come for it to claim a spot on the more or less dusty bookshelves in stores.
The novel tells the life story of A'isha, the child bride of Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and was initially due to be published a couple of months ago. However, its release did not work out as planned, since Random House decided to cancel the novel's publication after Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas drew attention upon the fact that the book could actually instigate violence.
But Beaufort Books refused to leave things this way. The publishing house is due to release "The Jewel of Medina" today, approximately one year after making available O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It," a hypothetical description of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, for which the former football star was acquitted. Before its Beaufort Books publication, Simpson's book had been dropped by its original publisher as well.
Although Britain's Gibson Square had also intended to release Sherry Jones' novel, plans for "The Jewel of Medina" are in a state of uncertainty, as publisher Martin Rynja's home was firebombed a couple of weeks ago.
Coincidence or no coincidence, was Random House right about the dangers "The Jewel of Medina" might generate?