Moving away from the enchanted world of Harry Potter, J.K Rowling weaves a new story laced with misery and despair – in her latest novel, ‘The Casual Vacancy’. So fiercely has the writer detached herself from the magical world of her previous offerings, that when an interviewer pointed out that there might be strong objections to the idea of young Harry Potter readers being drawn into adult literature, she replied, “There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your childrens’ babysitter or their teacher ... I’m a writer and I will write what I want to write.”
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is the story of an imaginary picturesque English village called Pagford. The novel begins with the death of Barry Fairbrother, who is an avid supporter of the disadvantaged inhabitants of ‘The Fields’—the nearby council estate—whose very existence is undesirable to the affluent residents of Pagford.
Barry Fairbrother had tried to nurture the talent of two classmates - a young belligerent girl Krystal Weedon, and a dyslexic girl of Sikh parentage, Sukhwinder. However, his sudden death leads to political squabbles among the residents. The warring residents clash, to push their respective candidate for the seat left vacant by the demise of Barry Fairbrother.
As the vote over the ‘casual vacancy’ approaches, the reader is bombardedan with an assortment of feuds, racist clashes, child molestation, and personal vendettas – that highlight the simmering hatred among the inhabitants of Pagford.
The book is a saga of miseries swirling around every corner. Online pornography is described in explicit manner, and sometimes becomes disturbing. Rowling is in her element when it comes to presenting the bitingly dark aspects of a society set in recession-hit Britain. Bereft of hope or redemption, there are no magic wands here to make the miseries disappear. The vivid prose tugs at the heart of the reader.
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is a dark odyssey, a stark representation of British society, recounted by Rowling with remarkable felicity.