Sunday, July 29, 2012

Charting JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

We all know JK Rowling as the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, but now she will release a book geared toward adults.  On February 24, 2012 most people received the news--for the first time--that Rowling would be writing another novel.  She tweeted from @jk_rowling, "As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much." That tweet aroused much speculation because immediately after people read it, they created their own predictions.  These predictions, however, were put to rest when, around two months later, Little, Brown (the publishing company responsible for Rowling's new book) finally released an official synopsis of the book: "When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.  Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but 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…Pagford is not what it first seems.  And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?  A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other."

As you can see, Rowling's new book sounds less fantastical than Harry Potter without lacking the wit and nuance for which she is well known.  The synopsis of her new novel incited both anticipation and backlash in large numbers of fans.  Many of them--myself not included--desire Rowling to write another Harry Potter book, or at least a book greatly similar to it.  I take the opposite stance;  I say that Rowling wants time to develop out of the Harry Potter image she still has not parted with, and I fully support The Casual Vacancy not only because it seems very intriguing and realistic but also because it will probably help her be more widely recognized as a diverse writer, as opposed to a one-hit-wonder.  I'm not sure if anything can top the success or respectability of Harry Potter, but are people really going to deny JK the opportunity to try?

The Casual Vacancy will be released on September 27, 2012, and it is available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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