Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gay book - making news for all the wrong reasons

In my rambling explorations of the Internet, I often stumble over curious things -- and here's one that's worth eight or ten ordinary ones: Plot thickens in case of 'censored' author, gay sheikh and a Booker prize-winner ...

It's a long an extraordinary story involving a gay novel (or at least a novel with a gay twist), the Muslim religion, a book festival in the Emirates, a major publisher, a Canadian Booker prize awardee, a torrent of misinformation, a storm of controversy, and a whole lot of people who wondered how the hell they got into this crapola.

Here's the short version -- insofar as there is anything vaguely approximating a short version! English journalist writes novel set in Middle East, featuring gay sheik with Brit boyfriend. Novel is published; novel is entered in the upcoming "first ever literary festival to be held in the Emirates" in Dubai, which kicks off on Friday. Why in the name of anybody's g/God(s) such a book would be entered in a book fair in a Muslim country beats the hell of of me, but it was and (surprise) it was tossed back by the fair organizers. A gay Sheik?! Can't happen legally, people. The whole concept questions the Muslim faith, and --

Bingo, right on cue, the book was kicked back. Now, was it banned? Author Geraldine Bedell maintains that it either is, was, or appeared to be banned at the time she spoke out about the situation ... and Canadian Booker-winner Margaret Atwood -- who whad been engaged to appear at the fair in Dubai, rightly went fairly ballistic. She's "a vice-president of the literary anti-censorship organisation PEN", and she canceled the appearance on principle...

So far, so good. Rumors flew about the book (The Gulf Between Us) having been censored by the authorities (where? in England?), and the whirlwind of misinformation shifted into high gear. The bottom line? The book wasn't banned -- not really, not technically, not in the actual meaning of the verb "to ban." Nor, apparently, was in censored.

In fact, the book was bumped from the festival in Dubai for many and varied reasons. Here's the bottom line: "The Guardian has seen an email from [festival director] Abulhoul, dated 19 September 2008, in which she says the novel was "extremely well written and should sell well" but continues: "However it is definitely not a book that we can launch at EAIFL for the following reasons: one of the Sheikhs is gay and has an English boyfriend; it talks about Islam and queries what is said; it is set in the Gulf and focuses on the Iraq war and could be a minefield for us."

Here's the whole sad story: ... and the more you read of it, and into it, the worse it gets.

Who's responsible for the mess? In Keegan's estimation it would have to be the pea-brain who tried to enter a book like The Gulf Between Us in a debut book festival in the Emirates! Good gods, get real, people. Could be a minefield?! Could be a bloody neutron bomb!

This is one of those times when I am so relieved to be able to publish privately and sell via something like Amazon, PayLoads, whatever. The crapola is amputated. People can either buy or not, as suits themselves, and this kind of three-ringed circus doesn't happen.

Speaking of publishing ...

The proof of Death's Head has just arrived from CreateSpace -- and once again they've done a marvelous job. The quality is superb. Equinox and Scorpio are on their way and should be here in a week or so. That leaves Stopover and Aphelion to be proofed.

However, we're going to hang onto the whole package and release the whole thing at Amazon, all of a piece. This should be in about three weeks, I think -- might be four, because ... if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know how long it takes for a book to percolate its way into the Amazon engine.

Incidentally, Amazon sales of the Keegan titles are very good since Christmas, but the sales are dropping off to match, which shows you where people's faith is: for whatever reason (and there is no watertight reason) they trust Amazon a whole lot more than they trust Lulu. That's good to know; unless you work for

Meanwhile, Legends is rolling with a full head of steam now. I just uploaded a good-sized post, which commences Chapter Ten ... and also some new artwork.

Speaking of the art, the Legends portfolio is incredibly beautiful, and we're trying to get some items up to Zazzle in the neat future. For me, things are very busy with the Amazon Kindle and Smashwords files to be developed.

Kindle is easy -- but Smashwords is going to take a lot more work, so I might have to settle for a whole bunch of projects at Kindle, and work on the Smashwords upload separately.

I'll leave you with an image -- the header shot for Chapter Ten.

Kudos to Jade ... fantastic work. I can see this on a mouse pad...


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