A Brand New Novel
Josephine Baker, the early-20th-century African-American dancer, comic, and singer–hugely famous in Paris. Did you know that she was also a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
I had ample reason for ambivalence as I said “farewell” to 2008 this year.
Personally, it was a year of enjoyment, new friends, travel, and the publication of my first novel. It was also a year of crushing disappointment at Random House’s decision to “indefinitely postpone” publication of “The Jewel of Medina”; treachery, as my book was unjustly accused of being what it is not and as my British publisher placed the book on, again, indefinite hold (erroneously telling the world that I had decided to do so); stress, as three men attempted to set fire to Gibson Square Books’ London office just before my book was scheduled to debut there, and the media asked me again and again if I’m not afraid to die (I’m more afraid to live without freedom of speech); irritation, as I defended my book again and again against charges of pornography and blasphemy and other ridiculous assertions; and dismay, as I watched “The Jewel of Medina” become a football in the ongoing political struggle between the world’s growing Muslim population and those who fear and loathe their influence.
Yet the year has held more good than bad. Free speech, we’ve discovered, is one value upon which we can all, for the most part, agree. This is important, because extremists of all types — Christian as well as Muslim, right-wing as well as liberal — have tried in recent years to curb our freedoms of speech, belief, thought, and personal expression. The controversy over my book has caused many to sit up and take notice, and to speak out against the infringement of our First Amendment rights, the centerpiece of America’s founding and possibly our most cherished freedom.
And it has been a year in which I have heard from so many readers whose lives have been touched, even changed, by “The Jewel of Medina.” One doesn’t have to go far to find a review expressing a new understanding of Islam and its founders, or inspiration taken from A’isha’s strength and determination in the face of adversity. This, for me, is the most gratifying response of all to my work.
Yet as I lifted a good-bye toast to 2008, I eagerly turned my sights to 2009. This year, Beaufort Books will give “The Jewel of Medina” what we had to sacrifice in order to bring the book out so quickly: A proper launch. For possibly the first time in publishing history, a publisher will roll out the red carpet for a book it has already published. Look for stories and reviews of my book in magazines and in the national media, and for my long-overdue author’s tour.
What’s more, “The Jewel of Medina” will appear as “La Joya de Medina” Feb. 4 in bookstores across Spain and in some Latin American countries, “the most exciting event of the year,” my publisher, Ediciones B, wrote to me. And in Germany, the as-yet-unnamed sequel is scheduled for publication May 1.
Meanwhile, I’ll be giving speeches, traveling to book festivals and Book Expo America, and going to foreign lands to promote my book throughout the year. Plus I’m scheduled to speak with several book groups in person and on the phone. If you’re interested in having me talk with your group, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And this website is an excellent way to keep abreast of all the excitement the new year will hold for “The Jewel of Medina” and both of the subsequent books in my A’isha Trilogy.