Book Jackets

Browsing the website of Irshad Manji, the ‘Muslim Refusnik’ who wrote The Trouble With Islam Today, it was interesting to note the variations (and similarities) between the book jacket designs in various countries worldwide.

My favourite is probably the image of the author’s mouth being censored (by the title), which appears in the French, Norwegian and USA editions. Finland, Belgium and Norway employ the same concept, but less effectively I think. By comparison, the English cover, depicting a group of Muslims at prayer, seems less imaginative, although the connotation with a phalanx of soldiers does convey one of the key concepts from the book:

Irshad Manji calls herself a Muslim refusenik. ‘That doesn’t mean I refuse to be a Muslim,’ she writes, ‘it simply means I refuse to join an army of automatons in the name of Allah.’
(from the Amazon blurb)

The English cover stands out as being very different from all the others. It is fascinating to look at what different publishers thought would sell well in the respective countries, and what best communicated the concepts of the book. Several jackets depict stone walls, while several others choose a veiled woman instead of Manji, with her uncovered, spiky hair. The covers for India and Canada are purely typographic. I am reminded of an article by my colleague Leo Warner, who wrote:

if you want to see a culture describe itself at the most organic level, you should observe the design and not the art.