The novel, The Jewel of Medina hasn’t even been published yet, but it’s already causing controversy. Author Sherry Jones had her book deal. She sent it off to have someone read it, give notes and then it was over. The full story is included in the second link below. Emails were leaked, websites were in an uproar and violence was feared. Violence was feared because of a piece of “historical fiction”. What is this? 1939? Too many threats and Random House pulled the book.
I’m a bit surprised, as are the people at the Writers Write blog (the first link below). I could see it getting banned in some countries, but to not have the US publish it seems a little odd. Are they so concerned about a violent reprisal? If Random House thinks that Jones’ book will sell, then it should be published, right? Of course, a Dutch cartoonist in 2005 drew a few cartoons and 100 people died. Can Sherry Jones get another house to dare to publish her book?
Regarding the subject matter of the book, I’m not so sure it was a good idea to write it in the first place. Some critics called it soft-core pornography. I don’t quite agree with that, but I don’t know how appropriate it is to pen an account of a religious figure’s first time having intercourse with his very young bride. I don’t dispute a writer’s desire to tell the story of an important historical figure. After all, we have films like The Passion of the Christ and The Ten Commandments. Anne Rice’s most recent books are Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: Road to Cana. She is definitely someone who knows about sexuality in a novel. Yet now, she is writing about Jesus Christ. I think the problem is that they fear Jones is turning Aisha into a violent, overtly sexual being. From the excerpt I’ve read, I can see why that would be feared by a strict religious community. So, while I might now like it, I think if Random House or another publisher wants to publish it, they should.