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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rowling Makes Under-the-Radar Return

Written by Jon Williams

The literary world was abuzz this weekend with the news that the book The Cuckoo’s Calling, ostensibly written by debut author “Robert Galbraith,” was in fact written by none other than Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.

Rowling made her own debut in 1997 with the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That was the beginning of a seven-book series detailing the exploits of the boy wizard and his friends as they fought the evil Voldemort in his quest for power and immortality. The books were both a critical and commercial success; Forbes magazine declared Rowling the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. The books also spawned eight film adaptations.

The final Harry Potter book was published in 2007, leaving a question of where Rowling’s writing career would go from there. That question was answered in 2012 with the release of The Casual Vacancy, her first novel aimed at adults. It focuses on the fictional English town of Pagford, which is thrown into chaos by the death of one of its council members. The novel is set to be adapted into a television series for the BBC, to begin airing in 2014.

After the success of Harry Potter, the hype for The Casual Vacancy was enormous. It sold well, but responses were mixed, with critics noting the complete thematic departure from her children’s series—Potter focused on friendship and love, whereas The Casual Vacancy portrayed situations that were dire and bleak. Many felt there was no way Rowling could publish anything without it being compared to the cultural phenomenon that was Harry Potter.

It was partially for that reason that Rowling took on a pseudonym to publish her latest work, which was published in April. She had previously expressed a desire to write a crime novel, and leaving her own name off of it allowed it to stand on its own. The plan worked, with the book drawing strong reviews from such sources as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. The publisher has since announced that a second book in the series will be published next summer, and that Rowling will continue to write them as Robert Galbraith.

Since it was confirmed on Sunday that Rowling is indeed the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, sales of the book have exploded, and demand is sure to remain strong. Be sure to have plenty of copies on your shelves for patrons when the audio version comes available in September.

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