May 21, 2009

Jewel of Medina still not coming out in UK


Sherry Jones and her book

Sherry Jones and her book

Catherine Neilan reports on The Bookseller that the American publisher of the controversial novel by Sherry Jones, The Jewel of Medina, is denying reports the book is scheduled to be published in the UK in October.

Neilan reports that Beaufort Books‘ spokesperson Erin C. Smith says, “While we have been clear we would love to make it available for sale in the UK we have not, as yet, found a distributor.”

The book was previously set to be published in the UK by Gibson Square, but publication was delayed after Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja‘s London home was fire-bombed by protestors. (The perpetrators have since been captured and imprisoned, as per this MobyLives story from Tuesday.) Jones “subsequently had the UK rights reverted,” explains Neilan, and gave them to Beaufort, her US publisher (after the book was dropped by Random House).

On her blog, meanwhile, Jones lashes out at UK publishers and distributors for being “too afraid.” She calls upon “the people of Great Britain” to “find the power, and the courage, to raise an outcry against censorship.”

“Although the extremists lost in court,” she writes, “they have apparently won where it really counts —- in the UK’s book stores. The ‘thugs’ have accomplished their task — and freedom of speech, the first freedom to go when fascism gets a foothold, has taken a blow in the western world.”

Not so, say some British publishers in this Guardian report. “I’ve read the reviews and it sounds absolutely awful —- beyond being offensive,” says Jon Wood of Orion. “If it were good we would actively consider publishing it, but an anachronistic bodice ripper —- why would we be interested?”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.