Thursday, August 28, 2008

A sidenote on Medina

I read this morning via GalleyCat that, because of Random House's decision not to publish The Jewel of Medina, the Langum Charitable Trust will not be accepting any Random House novels for consideration for either of its prizes until Jewel finds a publisher.

The press release is here. (Does this include Jewel's publication in Denmark, I wonder? It's not clear.)

Jewel wouldn't have been eligible for their historical fiction prize, which is open only to novels with American settings (self- and subsidy-published books excluded). Kurt Andersen's Heyday, from Random House, won the $1000 prize for 2007. There are very few literary prizes just for historical fiction, and the Langum Prize goes far in increasing visibility for the genre; I'm appreciative of its existence.

However, I disagree with the decision to penalize Random House's other historical novelists for a corporate decision they had nothing to do with. Not only would this eliminate, as GalleyCat points out, David Liss's The Whiskey Rebels, David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife, and Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore's Blindspot from consideration, but also Karl Iagnemma's The Expeditions (from Dial) and Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief (Delacorte) -- both of which have been receiving excellent reviews. There are other Random House novels that fit the prize criteria as well.

While I don't agree with RH's decision regarding Jewel, I don't feel that this blacklisting is a particularly laudable or appropriate form of protest.


  1. Definitely seems to be a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Maybe they'll reconsider?

  2. I hope they reconsider also. They're hurting authors who never had a dog in the fight to begin with.

  3. It's an odd sort of censure, for certes (can you tell I've been reading Penman?). Not only is it misdirected, but the affected authors are dependent on some other publisher in order to get back into the award's good graces.