The first novel for adults by Harry Potter author JK Rowling will be the “blackly comic” tale of a fraught parish council election in a quaint English town, her publishers announced on Thursday.
The 408-page book, The Casual Vacancy, perhaps the most hotly anticipated book of the year, is set in a small town called Pagford, described by her new publisher (Little, Brown Book Group) as an English idyll “with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey”. The story is set in motion by the unexpected demise of Barry Fairweather, a stalwart of the town’s parish council who dies in his early forties, according to guardian.co.uk.
Pagford may look like an English idyll, “but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war”, publishers said in a statement. “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,” they added. “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?”
Rowling laid down her pen — and Harry’s magic wand — when she finished the seventh and final Potter book in 2007, and since then the series has sold more than 450 million copies around the world in 74 languages.
The 46-year-old is Britain’s 15th wealthiest woman, according to The Sunday Times newspaper’s Rich List 2011, with a £530 million fortune. The Potter books were made into eight films, with the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, making more than $1 billion last year.
The Casual Vacancy will be released worldwide in English on September 27 in hardback, ebook, audio download and CD formats.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.