September 8, 2008
Rejecting "The Jewel of Medina"
Is the romance novel about Muhammad a religion story?
When Random House dropped the The Jewel of Medina, a romance novel about Muhammad and his child bride, they said it was because it "could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment." Were they talking about literary critics?
A Wall Street Journal op-ed quotes the professor who, according to the article, sparked fears of violent retribution, saying the novel was "a very ugly, stupid piece of work. . . . You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."
NPR posted an excerpt of the prologue of the book, now to be published by Beaufort Books: "Scandal blew in on the errant wind when I rode into Medina clutching Safwan's waist. My neighbors rushed into the street like storm waters flooding a wadi." Ugh.
Further down in the passage, Muhammad is reverently and sympathetically portrayed. But kind intentions and literary mediocrity didn't render the book passable in Serbia, where a publisher pulled the book and apologized to an Islamic society that was getting ready to protest. It remains to be seen how "small, radical segments" will react this year when the book is published in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Macedonia, Brazil and Germany.
Beaufort Books also published HarperCollins/Regan Books castoff If I Did It by O.J. Simpson.