House of Langham Curses House of Random


The Langham Charitable Trust took offense at Random House's decision to scrap Sherry Jones' The Jewel of Medina, and as a result has forbidden Random House authors from entering the trust's literary competition:

"[U]ntil The Jewel of Medina is actually published, [we] will not consider submissions of any books, for any of our prizes, from Random House or any of its affiliates."…

So that's the $1,000 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction and the $1,000 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History or Biography off the table for Random-affiliated authors until 2009 at the earliest—bad news for, at the very least, David Ebershoff (The 19th Wife), David Liss (the forthcoming The Whiskey Rebels), and Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore (the also-forthcoming Blindspot), all of whom would appear, based on an admittedly incomplete reading, to have otherwise had as strong a chance of winning the fiction prize as Random House author/editor Kurt Andersen, who won last year's award for Heyday.

Also from GalleyCat, a thorough dismissal of claims that Random House "censored" Jones:

The difference between true censorship and Random House's decision to place a higher value on the safety of its proven corporate assets than on a commercially unproven work of artistic expression is, simply, the difference between "you can't do that" and "I don't want any part of that." Random House did not join forces with Islamic leaders to explicitly condemn the book, nor is it sitting on the manuscript to prevent readers from ever seeing it; they have given the rights back to Jones, who is even now working with her agent to secure another American publisher for the novel and its sequel.

While I agree that baseless accusations of censorship devalue the term, I stand by my argument that Random acted like a bunch of n00bz when they decided to genuflect to the shadow of radicalism.

Let us hope, for the sake of all those Random House writers—many of whom without the Langham prize will be reduced to attention-starved artists—and in honor of America's love of heaving bosoms and historical fiction, that an American publisher picks up Jones' book sooner rather than later.

Michael C. Moynihan on The Jewel of Medina here.