Creating a such a successful seven book and eight film-long franchise as Harry Potter makes you a global phenomenon. The pressure must have been intense for author J.K. Rowling, not only in finishing what she had started and meeting the demands of critics and fans, but then the pressure of figuring out what’s next. As for the latter, she’s written her follow-up to the Potter universe and that work is The Casual Vacancy.
The book is set to premiere on September 27, and The Wall Street Journal has this synopsis:
When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little 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?
This is being described as Rowling’s first adult novel, though it will be interesting to see how adult it is and also how many of her fans follow her to the next project. The good thing for Rowling is that those fans who stayed with her Potter books from beginning to end are now adults, and might enjoy seeing something a little older from her. This also seems to follow Rowling’s political bent, as the piece has some resonances to the world today. If the rich are at war with the poor, that doesn’t sound to far removed from the recent Occupy protests.
But to ask a question that may sound negative: How bad does this have to be not to sell millions of copies, and how does it have to be not be optioned and adapted to the big screen? If the book is finished, Rowling may have the power to keep it from hitting the galleys too early, but most producers are likely already clamoring to get their hands on this material, unless Rowling already has a contract with the people she’s worked with previously. If we don’t see The Casual Vacancy on the big screen by 2014, it’s either because the book is a complete botch, or because it came out in 2013.
Will you buy Rowling’s new book?