MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
A controversial novel about the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad has found a home with the U.S. publishing house, Beaufort Books. Beaufort is best known for publishing the O.J. Simpson book, "If I Did It." This latest book, "The Jewel of Medina," was originally set for release in August by Random House. But Random House pulled it because of worries about its subject matter.
NPR's Lynn Neary has the latest.
LYNN NEARY: The controversy over "The Jewel of Medina" erupted when Random House announced the decision to cancel publication after it was advised that some Muslims might find the depiction of the Prophet and his wife offensive. Random House said it was concerned about the safety of its employees, the author, Sherry Jones, and anyone else who might be associated with the book.
Jones' agent, Natasha Kern, says they were both blindsided by the last minute decision and immediately began looking for a new publisher.
NATASHA KERN: Obviously we want to have the book read and judged fairly and for people to realize that, you know, accusations like that it's a soft porn or whatever, that now, we've had to respond to, are wildly untrue.
NEARY: The book is due to be published in a number of foreign countries, including the UK. And today, Beaufort Books, a small, independent house, announced it will publish the book in this country.
Beaufort President Eric Kampmann says his company is not afraid of controversy.
ERIC KAMPMANN: And of course, I did the O.J. Simpson book last year, "If I Did It," which was tremendously controversial. And I got a lot of negative feedback. But the public wanted to read it.
NEARY: Kampmann says the controversy around "The Jewel of Medina" is misguided. He says it's a work of historical fiction which is respectful of Islam.
KAMPMANN: I think it brings a reality to it than most people in the West - and particularly in America - are just not familiar with. So I think it's a boundary destroyer rather than a barrier builder.
NEARY: Natasha Kern says she and Sherry Jones are pleased with the deal, which gives them a larger share of the profits and includes publication of a second book. Kern says they also received full assurance that Beaufort will back them no matter what happens.
KERN: You know, we did talk about personal safety issues for Sherry and we're very happy with the support that will be arranged in case something does happen.
NEARY: Eric Kampmann says he doesn't believe the publication of the book will lead to violence. But if it does...
KAMPMANN: You hire guards.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
KAMPMANN: If there's trouble. I mean, what kind of trouble is there? I mean, you know, this is America. There are lots of points of view. There are lots of world views in this country. If this should be published, it should be published in America.
NEARY: Kampmann hopes to have the book out by late October.
Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.
NORRIS: And you can read an excerpt of "The Jewel of Medina" at npr.org.
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