In the two weeks since the attemped arson attack on Gibson Square, the British publishers of Sherry Jones‘s The Jewel of Medina, we’d been told that publisher Martin Rynja was considering whether or not to delay publication of the novel about A’isha, the youngest and most favored of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s many wives, while the American publisher, Beaufort Books, brought the book into bookstores a week before its planned pub date to make its true contents available to a public that had only heard about Jones’s work through the gross misrepresentations of Denise Spellberg, an Islamic studies professor who branded the novel “soft-core pornography” in a Wall Street Journal interview, after stirring up controversy within the Muslim community back when the book was scheduled to be published by Ballantine Books—which used Spellberg’s warnings that publication would lead to violent reprisal by Muslim extremists as the basis for cancelling its contract with Jones.
Now word comes, via The Bookseller, that Gibson Square will not publish on October 15 as originally planned, a decision which follows swiftly on the announcement that Jones will not be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair this week, an appearance which was supposed to be the launch of a European book tour. In a statement, Gibson Square implied that its decision came after consultation with the author: “We respect Sherry Jones’s decision. In her view the best thing to do is to postpone her visit and the publishing of the novel in Britain.”
That’s news to Jones, though. “I’m disappointed that Martin Rynja, publisher at Gibson Square, is postponing publication of The Jewel of Medina,” Jones emailed GalleyCat this weekend. “I was surprised to learn of his decision by reading it in the newspapers. Of course I won’t be traveling to London to promote my book at this time, since it isn’t available in the UK.”
One might note the emphasis, in the original reporting on Jones’ cancelled Frankfurt trip, of Beaufort’s role in Jones’s travel plans—simply put, the novel is in American bookstores but not British bookstores, and “we want Sherry here to promote her book,” said Beaufort head Eric Kampmann. “No person can articulate better than her why the book was written, what it is about and why people should read it.”