Whereas Rushdie's book was widely regarded as having literary merit (I have no opinion; I personally found it unreadable the one time I tried to read it back in the day; I have not re-attempted it), this new book may or may not have literary merit. Inherent in the topic, however, is some seriously juicy material, which has been dividing groups of people who are willing to kill and be killed over opinions on the topic for, well, over a thousand years. Given that a number of people died or were injured in the aftermath of Rushdie's book being published, and a certain now-deceased holy man in Iran declaring a fatwa and so on and so forth, I think characterizing Random House as somehow chicken shit for deciding not to publish this book after all is sort of unfair.
One can't really ask why the hell Random House went for this disaster in progress. Someone's eyes went $$$ and they're probably not very well paid and they are very well educated and passionate about something or other that _is definitely not_ Islam and probably not religion in any formal sense and come on, salacious much? The interesting question is, what called a halt before the bodies started piling up? The short answer is, a professor who was asked to read and comment on the book. A professor who is something of an expert on Aisha, and what people have made of what she may or may not have done over a millenium ago. She pointed out that the book isn't well researched, and that oh, by the way, dead bodies? Hello?
Less than a week before publication, Random House did The Right Thing by their employees and whoever might be in the hotel the author is staying at some day in the future when the bomb goes off early and takes out the bomber and two floors -- prematurely, of course, or Rushdie would not have been able to appear on late-night comedy shoes in the last year or so. Assuming history would have repeated itself exactly which it would, in all likelihood, not have done. A bunch of folk on the sidelines who, as near as I can tell, are Not Thinking Clearly, are upset about this. In related commentary, the daughter of the author has apparently come out and slammed the professor in question (who, come on, as an ARC reader? Didn't have any real say in the final decision.) for ruining her family's life.
Let me tell you, sweet pea, you want to see a ruined life? Try living underground for the better part of a decade. _That_ would well and truly suck and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, certainly not an idiotic teenager who does not know any better.
Of course, in all likelihood, some idiot out there will publish this puppy. Let's hope it doesn't lead to rash actions on anyone's part that, say, help Our Awful Leader in his dangerous efforts to start a war with another country whose name starts with I. Which still has a shrine commemorating the bomber who died when his bomb went off prematurely in a hotel.
Want to read the gory details? Google "Jewel of Medina". Also, read the professor's retort at:
And here's the author's blog, including the bit from her daughter:
Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the idealists out there who are hoping for peace to break out all over are onto something. I sure hope so.