Harry Potter may be over (except for in our hearts. Harry Potter is never over in our hearts), but the literary output of J.K. Rowling isn’t. The Casual Vacancy, Rowling’s first post-Potter novel, comes out this Thursday, and while anticipation for the book is sky-high (understatement of the year), Rowling seemed a bit nervous in a recent interview with The Guardian regarding her new book, the first she’s written for adults.
Quoth the interview:
When I tell her I loved the book, her arms shoot up in celebration. “Oh my God! I’m so happy! That’s so amazing to hear. Thank you so much! You’ve made me incredibly happy. Oh my God!” Anyone listening would take her for a debut author, meeting her first ever fan.
The trepidation makes sense. For the past decade-plus she’s had the literary world eating out of her hand, for the most part insulated from the typical effects of negative reviews (like that of Harold Bloom, who stated that “In an arbitrarily chosen single page of the first Harry Potter book, I count seven clichés”—shocking!) by the massive popularity, influence, and financial success of her famous series.
While Rowling is (in my opinion) a great storyteller, it’s not because of her way with words, which is not one of her strong suits. And that’s OK. What sucked me into Harry Potter was how intricate and vivid a world she created in Hogwarts; it’s easy not to notice clichés or clunky sentences when you’re so damn absorbed. (I feel the same way about George R.R. Martin: Great at world-building, great at creating characters… not so great with the nuts and bolts of writing.)
The Casual Vacancy is about a small, insulated English village torn apart by a local election, which seems the perfect sort of plot to mesh with Rowling’s set of writerly skills. And yeah, it could be a disappointment; Rowling accepts that as a distinct possibility, noting that “…if everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live. I will live.” But my hopes, for one, are high.
How ’bout it, Potterites? Will you be reading The Casual Vacancy?