"The Casual Vacancy," JK Rowling’s new book, and her first for adults, comes out on Thursday around the world. Expectation is building about the reactions it will get from both critics and fans.
In today’s Guardian, the Harry Potter author seemed to show a nervousness about the critical reception to reporter Decca Aitkenhead:
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.
Although the Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide according to the New York Times, spawning eight movies, theme parks and countless merchandising opportunities, not every critic enjoyed her writing style.
In writing about "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," San Francisco Chronicle critic David Kilpen wrote that "the book lumbers to a protracted, badly choreographed climax" (and received threatening emails from fans as a result.)
Famed literary critic and academic Harold Bloom wrote in 2000 in The Wall Street Journal that "her prose style, heavy on cliche, makes no demands upon her readers," a style that Anthony Holden in The Observer also described as "pedestrian, ungrammatical... [it] has left me with a headache and a sense of a wasted opportunity."
In today's Guardian interview, Rowling said that "I truly didn't sit down and think, right, now it's time to prove I can… I don't think I physically could write a novel for that reason."
She continued, "I just needed to write this book. I like it a lot, I'm proud of it, and that counts for me."
The article also reveals that she considered publishing her first adult novel under a false name.
"But in some ways I think it's braver to do it like this. And, to an extent, you know what? The worst that can happen is that everyone says, 'Well, that was dreadful, she should have stuck to writing for kids' and I can take that. So, yeah, I'll put it out there, and 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."
Rowling can only wait until Thursday, and hope that the notices read better than what the Guardian's own literary critic, Nicholas Lezard, wrote about the series in 2007, under the headline "Harry Potter's Big Con Is The Prose":
"The words on the page are flat... if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost.”
Whoever you are, that's got to hurt. Our copy of "The Casual Vacancy" arrived this morning. Visit HuffPost Books on Thursday to find out what we think.
UPDATE: Click here to read our review.
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