Australian publisher pulls controversial ‘memoir’

A major Australian publisher has this morning withdrawn from sale Norma Khouri’s best-selling book Forbidden Love over a row about its authenticity.

Random House Australia marketed the book as: “A harrowing memoir by a Jordanian woman whose life-long friend was the victim of an honour killing at the hands of her own father.”

Over the weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald reported allegations that the author had fabricated details of the story, which was published to wide acclaim two years ago.

The claims include that Khouri left Jordan at the age of three, that the main character, Dalia, never existed and that Khouri lived in Chicago for most of her life.

Khouri, who now lives in Queensland, has denied those allegations and has told journalists she can prove the book is based on fact. She declined to comment further this morning.

Random House has today withdrawn Forbidden Love from sale and recommends book stores do the same.

The publisher says it is very concerned about the allegations and that it published the book in good faith.

Members of Australia’s Muslim community are now seeking an explanation from the author and the publisher.

Keysar Trad from the Lebanese Muslims Association says the book has damaged the image of the Muslim community.

“These allegations have certainly done damage to members of the Muslim community because what they do is that people actually believe them and they start to believe that this is some form of backward culture, which is really not correct in any way whatsoever,” Mr Trad said.

“As a result, they tend to look at Muslim women in a very negative light, as if they are oppressed or as if they are potential victims of an honour killing and this is very far removed from the reality.”

Mr Trad says he has serious reservations about Forbidden Love.

“Some honour killings have taken place in various parts of the world, including Jordan,” Mr Trad said.

“However, as I read more and more about Norma Khouri’s book, it is absolutely unfathomable for that book to be accurate.”

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