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Fire delays controversial book

October 01, 2008|From the Associated Press

LONDON -- Plans for the British publication of a controversial novel about a young wife of the prophet Muhammad are stalled after a fire at the publisher's London office, a sales representative for the company was quoted Tuesday as saying.

The report came a day after the U.S. publisher of the book, Beaufort Books, announced that it had closed its offices as a "precautionary action" but intended to go ahead with its publication of "The Jewel of Medina" next month.

Beaufort took on American author Sherry Jones' novel after it was dropped by Random House Inc., which feared Muslims would be offended. The novel is about Aisha, who according to tradition was 9 when she became the wife of Muhammad and became a formidable figure in her own right.

On Tuesday, a report on the Bookseller magazine website said British publication plans had been thrown into doubt after a weekend fire at an office of publisher Gibson Square.

Publisher Martin Rynja "is in good spirits," Bookseller quoted the sales representative, Alan Jessop of Compass, as saying, "but has put publication in suspended animation while he reflects and takes advice on what the best foot forward is."

London's Metropolitan Police are questioning three suspects arrested Saturday morning in connection with the fire.

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