JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

A bluffers' guide to Harry Potter novelist's grown-up offering

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It’s not every day that kids’ authors make the transition into adult fiction (usually, quite the opposite). But Harry Potter creator JK Rowling is making headlines again, this time for her first grown-up book, The Casual Vacancy. And while there has been little publicity about the contents of the novel, it’s always good to know what type of book you’re getting into before you open it. Whether you’re pro-Potter or couldn’t quite get stuck into the fantastical world of Hogwarts, read on for a beginner’s guide to Rowling’s new novel.
Dhs110 (hardback). Available at Virgin Megastore, Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4353).

1 It doesn’t feature any wizards.
No wizards, no magic, no elves. Instead, the plot is based around the petty politics of an idyllic English village, where the death of a parish councillor leaves neighbours at loggerheads over a bitterly contested election.

2 It’s long.
A rainforest-razing 512 pages, to be precise. It’s Rowling’s fifth longest book, and Kindle salesmen will be rubbing their hands.

3 Nobody received advance copies of the book.
As with the later Harry Potter titles, advance copies of the novel were kept under lock and key (presumably within a massive electrified vault patrolled by ravenous two-headed dogs), meaning not even reviewers could lay eyes on it before it arrived in bookshops.

4 It’s already sold millions…
A month before publication, preorders passed two million copies. Last week, it edged into the top ten on Amazon UK’s bestseller list, at a loss-leading price of Dhs58.

5 …but it might be rubbish.
The Potter books have seen Rowling attain the profile of a blockbuster film director. But what sort of films are often kept from the press until the last minute? Bad ones.

6 It’s already been parodied.
Some enterprising clown has already released The Vacant Casualty, which promises ‘casual violence, rude tea-ladies and tortoise milk’. We recommend not purchasing this.

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