*Updated Sept. 5, 3:45 p.m.
A good week for author Sherry Jones continues, as Beaufort Books signs her to a two-book deal that releases The Jewel of Medina in the United States next month. A sequel is scheduled for release a year later.
In a statement, Jones praised Beaufort as "an independent publisher with gumption and verve that would treat me as a partner in the publishing process, and that wouldn't be spooked by controversy, recognizing it as a stimulus for discussion of my books' themes of women's empowerment, peace, and hope."
Earlier this week, London-based Gibson Square issued a statement announcing it will publish Jones' novel about Aisha, the child bride of the Prophet Mohammed.
Random House had rights to the book in the United States and internationally, but withdrew from the deal citing concerns it could trigger a violent reaction "by a small, radical segment."
If Gibson Square shares those concerns, it didn't faze the publishing house, which also has published Blowing up Russia by Alexander Litvinenko, a dissident KGB agent murdered with radioactive polonium 210, and Craig Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud.
'I was completely bowled over by the novel and the moving love story it portrays," publisher Martin Rynja said in a statement. He plans to release The Jewel of Medina in October.
'I immediately felt that it was imperative to publish it. In an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate. If a novel of quality and skill that casts light on a beautiful subject we know too little of in the West, but have a genuine interest in, cannot be published here, it would truly mean that the clock has been turned back to the dark ages. The Jewel of Medina has become an important barometer of our time. The love story is somewhat known in the Muslim world but entirely unknown to Western readers, but should be.' Rynja said.