As we lead up to the release of J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, later this week on the 27th, more and more interviews with her are surfacing. The New Yorker have posted a very long article that will be part of their October 1, 2012, edition. In it, the author, Ian Parker, state that the book is 512 pages long. He says that the book starts very soon with content that wouldn’t be found in the Harry Potter books as the content is definitely adult in nature, but that those who are looking for Harry Potter-like qualities will find them. In general, they will find them with young people coming of age and with places dealing with warring factions.
But reviewers looking for echoes of the Harry Potter series will find them. “The Casual Vacancy” describes young people coming of age in a place divided by warring factions, and the deceased council member, Barry Fairbrother—who dies in the first chapter but remains the story’s moral center—had the same virtues, in his world, that Harry had in his: tolerance, constancy, a willingness to act.
“I think there is a through-line,” Rowling said. “Mortality, morality, the two things that I obsess about.”
The setting is in a rural village called Pagford and revolves around Barry Fairbrother, a council member who dies in the first chapter. There are a lot of politics involved where different groups decide to take advantage of Fairbrother’s death and do away with some of the programs that he had
The book does definitely have some adult content, and some who want to read this book because of the Harry Potter books, may be in for a bit of a surprise.
“There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher,” Rowling said. “I was always, I think, completely honest. I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”
“It’s been billed, slightly, as a black comedy, but to me it’s more of a comic tragedy,” she said. If the novel had precedents, “it would be sort of nineteenth-century: the anatomy and the analysis of a very small and closed society.” A local election was “a perfect way in,” she said. “It’s the smallest possible building block of democracy—this tiny atom on which everything rests.”
“In my head, the working title for a long time was ‘Responsible,’ because for me this is a book about responsibility. In the minor sense—how responsible we are for our own personal happiness, and where we find ourselves in life—but in the macro sense also, of course: how responsible we are for the poor, the disadvantaged, other people’s misery.” Two years in, she picked up the standard British handbook for local administrators. “I needed it to check certain abstruse points. And in there I came across the phrase ‘a casual vacancy.’ Meaning, when a seat falls vacant through death or scandal. And immediately I knew that that was the title. . . . I was dealing not only with responsibility but with a bunch of characters who all have these little vacancies in their lives, these emptinesses in their lives, that they’re all filling in various ways.”
She added, with some passion, “And it’s death! The casual vacancy, the casualness with which death comes down. You expect a fanfare, you expect some sort of pathos or grandeur to it. And, you know, the first big death I ever suffered was my mother’s, and it was that that was so shocking: just gone.”
Popularity: 1% [?]