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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on that canceled book

Now we hear the other side of the story. The Wall Street Journal has published a letter sent in by University of Texas at Austin professor Denise Spellberg, who was the originater of the controversy about a novelization of the story of Aisha, young wife of the Prophet Muhammed.

She accuses the paper's op-ed (last week) of falsely asserting that she was the "instigator" of the cancellation by Random House of Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina.

But, as Publisher's Lunch comments, her clarification makes her position pretty clear: "As an expert on Aisha's life, I felt it was my professional responsibility to counter this novel's fallacious representation of a very real woman's life.... It was in that same professional capacity that I felt it my duty to warn the press of the novel's potential to provoke anger among some Muslims."
Spellberg said a lot more than that, accusing Sherry Jones of catering to "a long history of anti-Islamic polemic that uses sex and violence to attack the Prophet and his faith."
Jones still insists that there is no sex and violence in the book, and it is a genuine attempt at a thoroughly researched depiction of Aisha and her setting. It is impossible for the reader to judge for him or herself, of course, the book being withheld from public consumption, but a twelve-page prologue hints that there are some interesting discussions. Aisha, reflecting on the past, meditates that Muhammed wanted to give women freedom, but the other men took it away.
You can download the prologue from this site:
Copyright Sherry Jones, of course.

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