Casual Vacancy Foreplay: The Pre-Publication Interviews

Yesterday it was The Guardian, today we have The New Yorker profile, and tomorrow it will be USA Today — contracted interviews with Joanne Rowling about her new novel The Casual Vacancy and profiles written by writers who have spoken with her, read advance copies of the book, and done their homework. The New Yorker profile by Ian Parker, ‘Mugglemarch,’ is an especially rewarding read (?) even for Potter fans who couldn’t be less interested in Vacancy.

Are there spoilers? Yes, indeed, there are but not of the story’s ending or major plot points. Most of the ‘spoilage’ is in sharing throw away references to wrinkled cleavage, used condoms, and an expectant vagina you wouldn’t expect in a Hogwarts novel. Please share your thoughts pre-publication below alongside whatever plans you have for purchasing and reading Vacancy, if you have any.

UPDATE Monday: The USA Today Interview and Profile Ms. Rowling says she has written a “novelly novel” after her favorite 19th Century models — Dickens, Trollope, others. Another good read!

UPDATE IIsday: Fellow Potter Pundit James Thomas is quoted in today’s LA Times article on Casual Vacancy.  As always, he says just the right thing and very well.


  1. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ve reserved a copy at my local Barnes and Noble and will pick it up on Thursday. I was told that they will be getting 100 copies. It seems like a very small number compared to all the Harry Potter sales. I hope that they sell out quickly, but mostly I hope that I like the book as much as I think I will.

    I read the interviews and thought they, for the most part, were well done. It sounds like JKR is moving forward in her life and as an author – and that’s a good thing. As much as I love Harry Potter, and still reread the books all the time, I would hate to think that Rowling would end up being like Margarert Mitchell with only one story as her legacy.

  2. I, too, have been eagerly watching all Jo’s interviews online and can’t wait to get a copy of the new book. The New Yorker article contained a lot of details. A few things stood out for me. One is the name of the character who dies at the very beginning….Barry?…really? Ok. And then she says that no one really understands the full impact Barry had on the entire community until he was gone. His absence causes things to unravel, the vacancy he leaves not easily filled. I think we can all relate. My understanding of these brief comments is how one person with love and charity can profoundly affect others even when he is no longer with us. Perhaps Barry, like Harry, seems irreplaceable. The heart and soul of things. In the HP series, Harry is the hero. Maybe in this one Barry, now dead and not resurrected, i.e. not another Harry character to save the day, can only influence those he left behind by his example. I am guessing that someone received the message and will find the way to fill his shoes. We’ll all know by Friday, won’t we?

  3. Thanks James, it was a brilliant interview. She continues to impress. There is also a good interview on BBC2 with James Runcie.

  4. Like most things in The New Yorker, I found Ian Parker’s article condescending, snobbish, and…at the risk of really overstating myself…downright pretentious. To name drop and thereby prove my anger justified, Alan Jacobs has written a rather scathing review of the review (how meta) for The American Conservative. In it, he really nails just what Parker is missing and what John has been talking about for a decade now. Anyway, the link is below:

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