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Jewel of Medina

Jewel of Medina

Random House besluttede sig til ikke at udgive Sherry Jones’ bog »The Jewel of Medina«. Nu har en amerikansk litterær pris-komité besluttet at boykotte udgivelser fra det store amerikanske forlag.
David Langum kalder forlaget fejt, og at dets beslutning vil lede til mere selvcensur: »Vi må bekæmpe denne fejhed for enhver pris.«

Den amerikanske litteraturpris Langum Charitable Trust har bandlyst forlaget Random House. Årsagen er forlagets »feje selvcensur«, da forlaget aflyste en kontrakt med forfatteren Sherry Jones, fordi man ikke vovede at udgive hendes bog om Muhammeds barnebrud, Aisha. Egentlig havde Random House, som er et af USAs største forlag, indgået en kontrakt på et større dollarbeløb, men da forlagets eksperter advarede mod radikale muslimers reaktioner, trak forlaget aftalen tilbage. Lige nu forhandler Sherry Jones om udgivelse af bogen, The Jewel of Medina«, med andre forlag, og Danmark er også blevet nævnt.

Langum Charitable Trust er en af de mindre priser. Prisens grundlægger, David Langum, siger til avisen The Guardian, at Random Houses beslutning var politisk og tilføjer: »Vi vil ikke modtage nogen bøger til vor priser fra Random House eller dets datterselskaber.«

David Langum medgiver, at forlag må have ret til at afvise bøger og at ingen ved om Sherry Jones’ bog er god eller dårlig. Men det har intet med sagen at gøre, siger han:

»Random House har allerede betalt 100.000 kr. i forskud, har arrangeret at bogen skulle udkomme i dets bogklub og satset på udenlandske udgivelser. Det var selvcensur, der fik forlaget til at ændre sin udgivelsesbeslutning udelukkende af frygt for at krænke muslimer.«

David Langum kalder forlaget fejt, og at dets beslutning vil lede til mere selvcensur: »Vi må bekæmpe denne fejhed for enhver pris.«

I kølvandet på sagen forsøgte en serbisk forlægger at udgive bogen, men trak den tilbage fra bogbutikkerne, da lokale muslimske organisationer klagede. I Danmark har Trykkefrihedsselskabets forlag kontakt med Sherry Jones’ litterære agent.

Random House and Cowardly Self-Censorship

Random House recently dropped its plans to publish Sherry Jones’s book The Jewel of Medina solely on the grounds that its publication might be offensive to some in the Muslim community and might lead to acts of violence by radical Muslims. While any publisher has the right if not the duty to refuse to publish books that lack literary merit, Random House had previously decided this manuscript was highly publishable. It paid a $100,000 advance, and had arranged for foreign publication, Book of the Month Club selection, and Quality Paperback Book Club selection.

All that triggered Random House’s repudiation of its promise was the receipt of some fairly slight information that there might be violence. Serious ideas, even if offensive to some, flourish in books. Random House has exhibited a degree of cowardly self-censorship that seriously threatens the American public’s access to the free marketplace of ideas.

While this manuscript is not in any of our prize areas, Random House’s actions represent a threat to all literature. We understand that the author’s agent is attempting to find another publisher. Meanwhile, we can not pretend that this type of cowardice will disappear without serious remonstrance. Until The Jewel of Medina is actually published, The Langum Charitable Trust will not consider submissions of any books, for any of our prizes, from Random House or any of its affiliates. We do this reluctantly, since our most recent prize in American historical fiction went to a Random House title. Nevertheless, this issue must be confronted.

It is regrettable that with our national Banned Books Week only one month away, we still must concern ourselves with these issues.

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