Author Margaret Atwood, who last week announced she was pulling out of a Dubai book festival because author Geraldine Bedell's Book The Gulf Between Us, was banned because of a gay storyline, posted an angry retort on her site about feeling deceived by the reports.
"As Atwood writes today, citing blog reports and 'other
commentators': 'From reading the press [about the apparent 'ban'], I
got the impression that [Bedell's] book had been scheduled to launch at
the festival, and that the launch had then been cancelled, for
whiff-o'-gay-sheikh reasons; and that furthermore, Bedell herself had
been prohibited from attending the festival, and also from travelling
in Dubai.' On speaking to Isobel Abulhoul, the festival's
director, however, she was told that this was not the case, she writes.
Rather, the festival director had sent a 'candid' and somewhat naive
email of rejection, which 'was carefully guarded by someone – who? –
until now, when it was hurled into the press with great publicity
effect, easily stampeding people like me.' Atwood, upset that her
principled stance was taken under what she now sees as false pretences,
and protective of the 'first-time festivalite' Abulhoul, says her 'head
is spinning' as a result of the controversy. On Thursday, a UAE
newspaper quoted the head of censorship at the country's National Media
Council (NMC), denying the novel had ever been banned. As such, Atwood
argues, the words 'banned' and 'censored' were 'not helpful'."
The Guardian continues to report, however, that the book was turned away because of its controversial subject matter, citing an email that the gay storyline as well as the backdrop of the Iraq war were the reasons the book could not be launched at the festival.
Margaret Atwood Pulls Out of Dubai Book Fest Over Gay Book Ban [tr]