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Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online

Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Sherry Jones Finds U.S. Publisher for Jewel of Medina

Monday, September 8th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

According to Publishers Weekly, Sherry Jones’ Jewel of Medina will be published in the U.S. by Beaufort Books (“Beaufort to Publish ‘Jewel of Medina’,” by Jim Milliot). You may remember Beaufort as the house that picked up O. J. Simpson’s If I Did It. So clearly, it’s a matter of principle with them.


Quickly: Meanie, Medina, Authoritarianism, Wao!

Thursday, September 4th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

For authors and would-be authors, a valuable reminder that, when basing your characters on real-life people, you should change more than just the names. Like their gender, for instance. Or your mean-spirited worldview. (“Director: Library Diaries Author Invaded Patrons’ Privacy,” American Libraries) Sherry Jones’ The Jewel of Medina will be published after all, in Britain […]


Awards Roundup: Books for Youth

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Posted by: Sarah Hunter

March has brought a lot of things this year: basketball, 80 degree temperatures, a green river (if you live in Chicago, that is), and lots of awards for youth literature! The Ezra Jack Keats Award winners—chosen for their ability to impart “the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family and the multicultural nature […]


Do British publishers want to protect their rear ends—or their bottom lines?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
Posted by: Keir Graff

After getting a ton of ink in 2008 (much of it electric ink right here at Likely Stories), Sherry Jones’ controversial Jewel of Medina hasn’t made much news this year. Now, however, in a story with a tabloid-worthy headline (“Muhammad child bride novel author condemns UK ‘censorship’,” by Alison Flood) The Guardian reports that Jones “has […]


Two Likely Stories

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Well, I’m back. I had a great time at the Montana Festival of the Book. There were many memorable moments, but I’ll restrict myself–due to fatigue and an imminent conference call–to two. First, during the “When Commerce and Controversy Collide” panel, devoted to discussion of Sherry Jones’ The Jewel of Medina, the panelist seated immediately […]


Quickly: Writers both Highly Paid and Vomited On–and Much, Much More

Friday, October 3rd, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Your Friday grab-bag:  Bernard Henri Levy and Michel Houellebecq are tired of being pushed around, darn it. And, like the public men of letters they are, they’re . . . taking it public. The headline to Angelique Chrisafis’ Guardian story says it all: “The cultural whipping boys’ manifesto: France has vomited on us for too […]


Fiery Talk Fuels Firebombing

Monday, September 29th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Sadly, the talk of violence in the Jewel of Medina controversy was not just theoretical. The New York Times reported yesterday that Martin Rynja of Gibson Square, the book’s UK publisher, was the victim of something more than inflammatory speech. Thankfully, no one was hurt (“Attack May Be Tied To Book About Muhammad,” by Sarah Lyall): Early […]


Point Taken, but the Timing Is Unfortunate

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Sir Salman “Scruffy” Rushdie (sorry, I just can’t help myself, it’s too cute), whose name is frequently evoked in the Jewel of Medina affair (note to the Ian Fleming estate: great title for a Bond film), has weighed in (“Rushdie condemns cancellation of Muhammad novel,” by Hillel Italie, AP) “I am very disappointed to hear […]


Also, The Story of Civilization Has a Terrible Plot

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Defending her role in the unpublishing of Sherry Jones’ The Jewel of Medina, Denise Spellberg writes “I do not espouse censorship” in The Wall Street Journal (“I Didn’t Kill ‘The Jewel of Medina’“). Nevertheless: . . . I felt it my duty to warn the press of the novel’s potential to provoke anger among some […]


Bad Blurb Dooms Book

Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Posted by: Keir Graff

Citing fear for the safety of its author and its employees, Random House has canceled publication of Sherry Jones’s The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel about Aisha, a young wife of the prophet Muhammad. A glance at this news undoubtedly causes many of us to ask: have the terrorists won? But this is a more nuanced […]



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