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November 6, 2012

Vatican slams J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

Only days after giving the new James Bond film a ringing endorsement, the Vatican has slammed the new novel by J. K. Rowling saying it “needed a sprinkle of magic”.

By Josephine McKenna

L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See‘s official newspaper, subtitled its damning review of The Casual Vacancy with “J.K Rowling’s first adult novel disappoints”.

The newspaper said it had “only admiration” for the billionaire author who had smashed sales records with her Harry Potter series and overcome “wretched times” as a single mother.

It also congratulated Rowling for donating a large sum of her earnings to charity in 2011 “thanks to the power and fantasy produced by her pen” but said her latest book was unconvincing and Rowling’s perspective “disappoints”.

“Fifty-six years after Peyton Place, an up to date – and British – version of that masterpiece of a social chronicle might make sense,” the review says.

“Rowling probably has all the qualifications to be the worthy successor of Grace Metaloius. But there’s something missing.”

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October 9, 2012

JK Rowling: I will return to writing children’s books

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:45 pm

JK Rowling will return to writing children’s books following the publication of The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults.

By Roya Nikkhah

The author, who has been reluctant to say whether she would return to children’s fiction after finishing the Harry Potter series, confirmed that her next book would be for young children.

“As the writer of Harry Potter, I’m always nervous of committing myself to another children’s book, but yes, the next thing I write will be for children,” she said.

“I have a lot of things on my laptop currently, including a couple of things for children – for a slightly younger age group than Harry Potter was aimed at – which are nearly done and will, I think, be the next thing I publish. I have run them by my children and they seem to like them which is always a good sign.

“I also have some ideas for another book for adults but it isn’t too far on [in development].”

The Casual Vacancy has been described as a “sexually explicit tale of ruthless snobbery and bourgeois hypocrisy”.

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October 2, 2012

Casual Vacancy ‘fastest-selling book’ in UK in three years

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:40 am

 | Charlotte Williams and Lisa Campbell

J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy has become “the fastest-selling book in the UK in three years”, according to its publisher, Little, Brown, with Waterstones reporting it had been the biggest selling title for the chain yesterday (27th September).

Little, Brown declined to reveal first-day sales figures, but said it had shipped more than one million copies of the print edition to bookshops in the UK and to export territories, including Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. The publisher said this figure includes pre-order fulfillment. This is shy of the unconfirmed 2.5m million pre-order figure reported on Sky News and in the Daily Mirror on the day of publication, although the Little, Brown number does not contain e-book sales.

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September 28, 2012

Why the embargo on Rowling’s ‘Casual Vacancy’ didn’t hold

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:55 pm

When critics are supposed to abide by rules, the urge to be the first can be irresistible.

By Neely Tucker

The embargo on the J.K. Rowling novel “The Casual Vacancy,” reportedly one of the most draconian non-disclosure agreements in the history of publishing . . . did not quite work. ¶ Thursday is the release date for the first book for adults written by the empress of Hogwarts. Reviews were embargoed until 1 a.m. and book sales until 3 a.m. Since Rowling’s Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, the release of her new book — even though it is set in an unmagical British town called Pagford — is one of 2012’s largest publishing events. ¶ Thus, it is a test case for the common, if unloved, practice of forbidding booksellers from selling the book in advance of the embargo date, and forbidding media outlets from reviewing said tome before the date the publishing company decrees. ¶ The practice generally has several intents: to make sure books are in stores when readers hear about them; to retain the news revelations in nonfiction books; and to try to bottle up interest in big fiction titles, propelling them onto bestseller lists with an unusually high number of immediate sales.

“For franchise authors, you want to drive it to Number 1 by having everyone buy it the first week of release,” said Elyse Cheney, a literary agent in New York.

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September 27, 2012

JK Rowling: The Casual Vacancy – review

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:24 am

The author’s first book for adults features drugs, sex and swearing – things that Harry Potter probably never dreamed of.

By Theo Tait

They call it “denial marketing”: the process whereby the contents of JK Rowling’s books are guarded like the crown jewels until publication day. It made sense with Harry Potter, when the world and his dog wanted to know what had happened to the boy wizard and his dastardly foes. But it creates a slight anti-climax in the case of The Casual Vacancy, a novel concerning a parish council election in a small West Country town.

There are some superficial excitements here, in that the younger characters get up to things that Harry probably never dreamed of: taking drugs, swearing, self-harming, having grimy casual sex, singing along to Rihanna. The new book contains regular outbursts of four-letter words, along with the memorable phrase “that miraculously unguarded vagina” – which, leaked in a pre-publication profile, has caused a flurry of jokes on Twitter about Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina.

Generally, though, The Casual Vacancy is a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel.

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September 25, 2012

JK Rowling’s portrayal of ‘snobby’ villagers is not based on us, say West Country residents

JK Rowling said she drew on real life for The Casual Vacancy, but locals in her old home village say the portrayal of snobby residents is “fantasy”.

By Richard Alleyne and Anita Singh

When JK Rowling needed a setting for The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults, she didn’t have to stretch her imagination too far.

The author has claimed she drew on her own upbringing near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for her tale of a “snobby” middle-class community riven by provincial politics.

However, residents of the area where Rowling grew up say they do not recognise the fictional West Country village of Pagford, where the professional classes can barely hide their loathing for the inhabitants of a neighbouring sink estate.

Locals in Tutshill, Gloucestershire, say that any resemblance between their community and Pagford is as much a fantasy as the Harry Potter franchise that earned Rowling a £620 million fortune.

The author’s years as a struggling single mother, living on benefits and writing the first Potter book in an Edinburgh café are common knowledge. Less well known is the fact that from the age of nine until she left for Exeter University, Rowling lived a middle-class existence in Grade II-listed Church Cottage in Tutshill, a small community on the English side of Chepstow, the Wye Valley market town which straddles the Welsh border.

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JK Rowling: ‘The worst that can happen is that everyone says, That’s shockingly bad’

Harry Potter sold millions and made her one of the richest women in the world. Now JK Rowling has written her first book for grown-ups. But is the magic still there?

By Decca Aitkenhead

JK Rowling’s new novel arrives with the high drama and state secrecy of a royal birth. Its due date is announced in February, and in April the disclosure of its title, The Casual Vacancy, makes international news. The release of the cover image in July commands headlines again, and Fleet Street commissions a “design guru” to deconstruct its inscrutable aesthetic, in search of clues as to what might lie within. Waterstones predicts the novel will be “the bestselling fiction title this year”. Literary critics begin to publish preliminary reviews, revealing what they think they will think about a book they have not yet even read.

I am required to sign more legal documents than would typically be involved in buying a house before I am allowed to read The Casual Vacancy, under tight security in the London offices of Little, Brown. Even the publishers have been forbidden to read it, and they relinquish the manuscript gingerly, reverently, as though handling a priceless Ming vase. Afterwards, I am instructed never to disclose the address of Rowling’s Edinburgh office where the interview will take place. The mere fact of the interview is deemed so newsworthy that Le Monde dispatches a reporter to investigate how it was secured. Its prospect begins to assume the mystique of an audience with Her Majesty – except, of course, that Rowling is famously much, much richer than the Queen.

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July 18, 2012

Book Cover Clones: Why Do So Many Recent Novels Look Alike?

  By Ashley Fetters

There’s a new fad in book jackets—and it might have something to do with e-readers.

When Little, Brown released the cover art for J.K. Rowling’s forthcoming novel The Casual Vacancy earlier this month, with a snow-white, hand-lettered title draped lazily across a red jacket, it was hard to deny that the Mario J. Pulice design looked a little… familiar.

There was something recognizable about those looping, seemingly handmade cursive letters. Was it déjà vu, or had we seen this cover someplace else before?

Maybe not this very cover, but several notably similar ones. Handscript-titled book covers with simple handmade illustrations have been used lately all over the upper echelons of fiction: Last year, Chad Harbach’s divisive baseball bildungsroman The Art of Fielding had its title curlicued across the front, like the franchise name on an old-style home-team jersey; meanwhile, Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot introduced itself to the world in a disarmingly dressed-down fashion, its name hurriedly jotted down over a comic-book graphic of a wedding band. Similarly, John Green’s 2011 book The Fault In Our Stars, Mark Haddon’s new release The Red House, Maggie Shipstead’s June debut Seating Arrangements, and Giorgio Faletti’s forthcoming Italian-import sensation A Pimp’s Notes all feature hand-scrawled titles that largely dominate their covers, accompanied by only minimal artwork.

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April 15, 2012

New J K Rowling novel to be village black comedy

Pic credit: © Wall to Wall Media Ltd. Photographer: Andrew Montgomer

| By Benedicte Page

J K Rowling’s new novel for adults is to be titled The Casual Vacancy and will be published worldwide on 27th September. In the UK it will be a £20 hardback or £11.99 e-book, plus available as an audio download (£20) and CD (£30).

Publisher Little, Brown said the book was the “blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising” tale of what happens in the English village of Pagford after parish council member Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly.

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