Saturday, 6 October 2012

A casual mistake?

Some people love it, some people hate it, but it’s no surprise that all the reviews I’ve seen of J.K. Rowling’s  The Casual Vacancy, the author's first novel for adults, compare it with her Harry Potter books. (Apparently the new book has no magic, unlikeable characters, lots of bad language, explicit sex and violence.)

It would have to be a very remarkable book indeed to match the success of the Harry Potter series but, because of the name on the cover, The Casual Vacancy  is destined to become a bestseller no matter what its literary merits. But I wonder how many people will buy a copy and be disappointed only because it is so different from HP.

I understand why J.K. Rowling wanted to write an adult novel. The excitement and challenge of creative writing is – or should be – all about experimenting with new subjects, different forms and styles. But as she is never going to be able to escape the ‘Creator of Harry Potter’ label, do you think she should have:

a)      stuck to what she knows is a winning formula
b)      published The Casual Vacancy under a pseudonym
c)      written an adult novel featuring a grown-up Harry Potter
d)      announced her retirement from writing


Friko said...

None of the above.

Surely the HP franchise has run its course (I never read a HP novel)

b) why?

c) definitely not

d) no, if she enjoys writing which she does.

It's her business what she does. I probably won't read Casual Vacancy either, or not for a long time; maybe if I pick up a 2nd hand copy in a Charity Shop some time. But it doesn't sound like a book I'd like, I'm really not very much into recent social realism.

Anonymous said...

If it had been published under a pseudonym people could have read it without any preconceptions. But that way she would've sold far fewer copies. So maybe she did it the right way after all - and she's got people talking about books, which can only be good.

jakill said...

I've just read a couple of good reviews of it, which have made me want to read it. I also saw her interviewed on TV recently, explaining why she wanted to write this particular book. I'll either buy it (possibly from Green Metropolis)or wait till it turns up at the library, but I don't expect it to be a comfortable read, so possibly not holiday reading material.