SPOKANE, Wash. - Sherry Jones'
The Jewel of Medina
reached bookstores Oct. 6 amid fears that the book about the Prophet Muhammad's child bride might lead to violence and threats. But the author said she had received no threats and was spending the day quietly, except for talking to reporters and being photographed.
Jones' novel is about Aisha, who according to tradition was 9 when she became the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, and later a political and military leader in her own right.
"I'm going to a dinner party tonight, but it's not in my honor or anything," Jones said.
Jones said she first saw a hard copy of her novel the previous week while in New York.
"I burst into tears," she said. "This has been my dream since the second grade."
It was a fight to get
The Jewel of Medina
into print, though.
The original publisher, Random House Inc., backed out, fearing publication would spark violence because of its provocative topic. Company representatives said it had received what it called "credible" information that publication "could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."
A smaller independent New York publisher, Beaufort Books, then agreed to publish the novel, and sped up the release date to Oct. 6 instead of the original Oct. 15 to "reduce or eliminate the chance of violence," according to Eric Kampmann, president of Beaufort.
Publication in Britain remains in doubt after the arrest of three men in London in connection with a fire-bomb attack on the offices of publisher Gibson Square, which had announced intentions to bring out the novel. The offices of Dutch publisher Martin Rynja of Gibson were bombed Sept. 27. The book is still scheduled to come out in more than a dozen countries this month, including Serbia, Hungary and Italy.
Kampmann noted the London arrests and said, "What had occurred in London, we didn't want to have occur here. We wanted people to have a chance to read the book. Once they read the book, we thought the violence part of this story would disappear and people would be focusing on the story, and the book and Sherry."
Jones has already completed a sequel about Aisha's adult life that Beaufort plans to publish next year.
Jones, who initially said she was "surprised" and "disappointed" by Gibson Square's decision to postpone British publication, said she had received no information from the publisher on any plans to proceed. But she hoped that publication in the United States would finally show people that the book is not insulting to Muslims.
She has, however, decided to cancel a publicity tour to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany to promote the book, according to Bookseller magazine.
"We respect Sherry Jones' decision," Gibson Square said in a statement quoted by Bookseller. "In her view the best thing to do is to postpone her visit and the publishing of the novel in Britain."