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Rushdie condemns cancellation of Muhammad novel - Comments

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 1 by justinesaracen

>>>>put out by a coalition of writers, publishers and human right organizations.<<<

I'm not sure what this means in terms of being a viable entity for publication of other risky publications. But I think it might be the way to go, to continue publishing items that otherwise might endanger a single publisher.

I certainly can understand the timidity of the publishing house, if someone threatens to harm your business or your staff, but it is nonetheless critical to find a way to stand up to the threats and the fanaticism, and such dispersal of publication might be the way.


Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:02:00 UTC | #218283

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 2 by justinesaracen

You have to wonder how these bomb-threateners decide who to threaten, and for what. Surely anyone who wants to silence a novelist for a sweet little novel about Aisha would be even more incensed by the writings of Richard Dawkins who brazenly attacks their entire religion as nonsense. And yet Dawkins' publisher goes on merrily publishing one 'blasphemy' after another, without blinking an eye.

Go figure.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:07:00 UTC | #218286

PJG's Avatar Comment 3 by PJG


Try to order the book from Amazon.

If enough people make enquiries, Random House, or some other publisher, may well find that greed overcomes fear... as it so often does!!!

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:12:00 UTC | #218288

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 4 by ColdFusionLazarus

Before this, from Rushdie, I had allowed myself to think, "Maybe the book is crap and serves little purpose anyway. What's the point in speculating what Ayesha may or may not have thought as her body was violated at such a young age?" But if Rushdie and others are so dismayed by a publishers right not to publish (and it seems that they are not publishing due to oppressive fear) then I'll think again.

What I liked about the Satanic Verses was that it was trying to ease open the debate about the "infallible" man and the "infallible" book. It "almost" worked as a force to allow moderate muslims to feel more confident.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:14:00 UTC | #218291

PJG's Avatar Comment 5 by PJG

Would it be a good idea to leave comments on Amazon - readers reviews section - for this book, pointing out that it appears to have been withdrawn from publication and why?

This is "censorship by fear" and, regardless of the quality of the writing or the speculation involved in this NOVEL, it is a violation of what we believe in.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:18:00 UTC | #218292

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 6 by irate_atheist

1. Comment #230614 by esuther -

A shotgun licence?

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:31:00 UTC | #218293

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 7 by ColdFusionLazarus

Isn't it a bit harsh to mention outright "Censorship"? Doesn't the author still have a right to take the book elsewhere to be published? Or are contracts such that the publisher owns it and it would take a lot of effort to allow another publisher to take the work off them?

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:33:00 UTC | #218294

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 8 by justinesaracen

Isn't it a bit harsh to mention outright "Censorship"? Doesn't the author still have a right to take the book elsewhere to be published? Or are contracts such that the publisher owns it and it would take a lot of effort to allow another publisher to take the work off them?

That would depend on the terms of the contract the author signed. I write atheist/anti-religious fiction myself, but for a tiny press that no one has noticed. My contract stipulates that the book WILL be published by a certain date and if it is not, then I regain rights. If the publisher in the case of the Aisha novel has paid an advance, and does not specify a "to be published by" date, then the author is paralyzed. She has effectively sold the rights to the novel and cannot take it elsewhere unless the publisher dissolves the contract or violated one of its terms.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:46:00 UTC | #218299

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 9 by HourglassMemory

We cancel critiques and novels and articles and films as if we had a gun pointed to our heads.
This indirect control those societies have on the rest of the world... It just makes me think of an elephant who's afraid of a mouse.
Talk about control.
It's like the medieval church, threatening hellfire and keeping everyone in a peverted sense of "peace".
Today's threats can indeed be very real but it's still sad...that we cringe at their blabber, that we shrug as if an explosion has taken place behind us and we just nod, like an obedient maid.

Everybody's afraid because they think some crazy muslim will come out from the shadows and stab the writer or the publisher or anyone involved with the publication of the book.

Some say Islam is a religion that condemns violence, in the name of faith.
I just have to wonder how deeply the believers believe in those statements, and will wrongly feel threatened, and become violent themselves, to protect those very same ideas.
Moderate, educated doctors can be pushed to a murdurous limit, as has been seen.

The thing I hate about religious beliefs is that they make you more prone to needless insanities and stupid actions.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:54:00 UTC | #218301

HunterZolomon's Avatar Comment 10 by HunterZolomon

I can't help but suspect that this book might have gone unnoticed if it weren't for that Professor Spellberg getting her panties in a twist over it. There were no protests, as far as I understand, from the muslim community itself. No, this is the work of a politically correct alarmist, who probably feels real good right now having prevented feelings from getting hurt.

What she has essentially achieved is supplying the muslim loons with a bit more ammo for their victimization rallies.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 01:14:00 UTC | #218307

theantitheist's Avatar Comment 11 by theantitheist

As with books written under a pseudodanismgooglebollockscantspellthebastard, because the writer want's to remain anonymous or there ar multiple writers in a type (thinking Mills&boon but not even sure if that was multiple writers as i know nothing about them, honest governer)

Why can't the writer and publishing houses do this with secret funding and no published details (though to be honest this all sounds like it belongs in science fiction underground resistance novel).
In fact forget what i just said, publish it and grow some balls.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 01:54:00 UTC | #218320

JemyM's Avatar Comment 12 by JemyM

I cannot blame them for being scared into silence. We are dealing with an organization that works like the mafia after all. Not everyone wants to die for the values of their culture.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:03:00 UTC | #218325

apostrophe's Avatar Comment 13 by apostrophe

The sword is mightier than the pen.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:17:00 UTC | #218333

Ygern's Avatar Comment 14 by Ygern

I googled the book title, and noticed that the author Sherry Jones had a blog on this, but it has subsequently disappeared.

I tried the cached page and found this:

Don't Believe Everything You Read

First thing in the a.m. after publication of Asra Q. Nomani's editorial about "The Jewel of Medina," misinformation abounds. But I can't talk about the publisher's decision not to publish -- not until Random House/Ballantine says so, for reasons I can't disclose ;-(. But I can correct at least one inaccuracy: My book is not a "bodice-ripper," as one blogger (who obviously hadn't read the book) called it. Nor, in my opinion, is it particularly "racy," as Ms. Nomani, who HAS read the book, described it. Denise Spellberg, the UT professor who started all this, called it "soft porn" -- which makes me feel like a literary master, able to write a pornographic novel without sex scenes!

Bloggers are going wild, reading all kinds of things into Ms. Nomani's excellent opinion piece. Some believe the Random House assertion that several people warned of potential terrorist attack. If so, that's news to me. The only one I was told about was Ms. Spellberg.

Ironically, I've been castigated in some of these blogs by writers who haven't read the book and who mis-read the editorial piece. Being called an "Islamopanderer" is the most ironic. All I did was try to portray A'isha, Muhammad's child bride (believed by most historians to have married Muhammad at age nine and consummated the marriage at age 11) in the context of her times. If I'd pandered, wouldn't my book now be coming out? I guess I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't..

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:34:00 UTC | #218339

Old Sarum's Avatar Comment 15 by Old Sarum

Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says Random House should pay author Sherry Jones "substantial compensation" for shelving her novel "The Jewel of Medinia" over fears of a violent Muslim response:

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:45:00 UTC | #218347

Ygern's Avatar Comment 16 by Ygern

Comment #230683 by Old Sarum

That's just a mealy-mouthed, cowardly way of throwing money at a problem to make it look as if it has gone away.

It is about more than an author's potential loss of earnings (a valid concern), but also
and far more importantly
about censorship of ideas, of bowing in fear to the tyranny of fundamentalist bullies.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:49:00 UTC | #218354

Old Sarum's Avatar Comment 17 by Old Sarum

That's just a mealy-mouthed, cowardly way of throwing money at a problem to make it look as if it has gone away.

The argument is that if Random House have to cough up big $ for reneging on their agreement, this will discourage similar acts of self-censorship.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 03:03:00 UTC | #218366

Ygern's Avatar Comment 18 by Ygern

Well, possibly.

I don't think that it works like that. If people are afraid of consequences of free speech, they will pay up rather than take the risk.

And, if there is a further threat of punitive fines attached to it, you could very well see publishing houses refusing to even contemplate publishing authors writing on any subject related to Islam in the future.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 03:10:00 UTC | #218374

padster1976's Avatar Comment 19 by padster1976

'that enraged some Muslims. The book was banned in India, and burned by demonstrators in England. The novel's Japanese translator was murdered, the Italian translator stabbed. '

Ah, that peaceful religion at work!

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 04:10:00 UTC | #218405

bucketchemist's Avatar Comment 20 by bucketchemist

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 04:15:00 UTC | #218409

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 21 by Ishruul

Does that mean I can get away with terrorism now?

Seem like a lot of people do nowaday.

'Ishruul make some chicken-bomb while whistling the Love Boat's theme'

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 04:29:00 UTC | #218415

35bluejacket's Avatar Comment 22 by 35bluejacket

The whole argument of both sides sounds to me absurd. "If" the Prophet was wise and all knowing, then he would have seen the coming outrage over his actions and did not seem to be concerned. If on the other hand he was an evil lecherous old man, then he and his religion deserve the flack.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 04:52:00 UTC | #218423

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 23 by IaninPA

The manuscript exists, can't it be published online?

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 05:28:00 UTC | #218442

Luthien's Avatar Comment 24 by Luthien

Excellent idea, bucketchemist, she should do that!

I have bought a few books from myself (Sci-Fi), and they were all excellent! I would definitely recommend them.

The other idea from esuther about setting up a coalition to deal with these situations, I agree! How do we do this, and how can I help? I am quite sure that this would easily pay for itself in sales, after all, you still have to buy a book if you want to burn it ;)

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:33:00 UTC | #218461

Severus Snape's Avatar Comment 25 by Severus Snape

Maybe this is just a publicity stunt, and Random House will release the novel in a few weeks. Maybe not...

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:34:00 UTC | #218462

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 26 by IaninPA

Maybe this is just a publicity stunt, and Random House will release the novel in a few weeks. Maybe not...

Hmm... didn't think of that, how silly of me. It's quite possible, but then again, I can see the meeting where they are all sat around the table saying, 'do we really want to be at the wrong end of death threats over this?'

So on balance no, I think this is real.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:47:00 UTC | #218465

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 27 by irate_atheist

26. Comment #230817 by Severus Snape -

If it is a stunt, it is a cupid stunt.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:48:00 UTC | #218466

OhioLen's Avatar Comment 28 by OhioLen

As I understand it, RH had to pay a cancellation fee of $100K and the author retains all rights to the book. I read it from one of the links in another thread on the topic here, but don't remember which.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 06:52:00 UTC | #218468

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 29 by Bonzai



Try to order the book from Amazon.

Don't think so.

The issue is not that the book doesn't get published, but the reason why it was canceled. It is a travesty that the publishing industry is allowed to be taken hostage by radical Muslims like that.

Random House has already given out the message of capitulation by making the initial decision to cancel the book deal and explicitly citing fear of Muslim reprisals as the reason. The damage has already been irreversibly done.

On the other hand, by all accounts the book is actually crap. It romanticizes child rape and whitewashes Muhammad. This is particularly vile because the practice of raping children in the name of following Muhammad's example is still alive and well in some Muslim countries.,2983,The-rebellion-of-the-child-brides,Johann-Hari---Independent

It is a supreme irony that what seems to be an apologist for Muhammad ends up being censored for fear that the apology may actually provoke the crazies who are either 1) illiterate or 2) would not read pass the fact that the book describes sex scenes between Muhammad and his rape victim.

I wouldn't spend a dollar on this trashy book. I would rather have a donut,--and normally I don't eat donuts.

EDIT: We should defend freedom of speech as a principle, but it doesn't follow that we should show support for the particular speech in question (by ordering it on Amazon) Even if you think the KKK has a right to free speech on principle, you don't have to show up for a few cross burning rallies to make the point.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 07:23:00 UTC | #218470

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 30 by mordacious1

mmmmm doughnuts

I'm off to the bakery, thanks Bonzai.

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 07:24:00 UTC | #218471