Put away your wands, everyone. Multi-zillionaire Harry Potter author J K Rowling has announced what her long-awaited new adult book will be about. It’s very definitely going to be set in the Muggle world (non-magical, for those of you not au fait with her works.) Her books have sold 450 million copies worldwide. Her website, Pottermore, went live recently, to sell electronic versions of the Harry Potter books – and sold one million copies in three days.
The Independent reported that the book, to be published by Little, Brown in September, and which previously had been thought to be a crime novel, will be called “The Casual Vacancy”, and will concern itself with parish-council elections in an English market town called Pagford, complete with “coppled square and ancient abbey”. It’s expected to be 500 pages long and will follow what happens after a parish councillor, Barry Fairweather, unexpectedly dies and leaves an empty seat on the council. (And read what Periscope thinks might have killed him here.)
“What lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils,” said J K Rowling’s publishers.
Not just a child prodigy, eh? John Crace in The Guardian jumped the gun slightly by imagining a Digested Read of the proposed novel, in which “Gary Patter” conceals the scar on his forehead, having changed his name and moved “to escape the fans after his Hogwarts adventures.” And he “wanted to prove he wasn’t just a child prodigy who had got a bit lucky with his magic wand.”
Give her a chance guys! Maureen Johnson, also in The Guardian, was slightly kinder: “Let the book stand on its own. The bridge can be crossed in either direction. Many adult authors are now streaming over to the younger side, seeing the rich potential audience there. Rowling, who helped to build the bridge, is walking in the opposite direction. And why shouldn’t she? She’s following her ideas where they take her. Cross-pollination in reading and writing is a good thing: writers moving into new storytelling areas, kids reading ‘adult’ books, adults reading ‘kid’ books. They’re all stories.”
Maybe not. Sameer Rahim on The Telegraph said he was dreading it. Rowling’s success is a triumph of marketing over her content. And it’s depressing to think that this book will be a bestseller, when far better works will languish in the doldrums.
A return for Voldemort? Elsewhere on the interweb, Popblend was excited: “It’s going to be very interesting and exciting to see what Rowling does with a more adult-oriented story.” AVClubsaid that it wouldn’t try to stop us from prejudging the book based solely on its title, and suggested that the empty seat on the parish council might be filled by Voldemort. “He’s owed a win at this point, isn’t he?” The Dark Lord himself tweeted: “JK Rowling’s new book will be called “The Casual Vacancy” & is about a war in a small town. Fitting, as I’m prepared to kill people for it.”
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