Far removed from the magical world of Harry Potter with its witches and broomsticks, J.K.Rowling’s first novel for grown-ups, to be called The Casual Vacancy, is set in a quiet fictional English village of Pagford whose peace is shattered by the sudden death of a local resident Barry Fairweather, her publishers announced on Thursday ending weeks of intense speculation.
A bit that, however, continued to cause much speculation was whether it has a character called Harry.
The novel, already predicted to be a "mega best-seller", will be published worldwide on September 27. Besides the standard hardback edition, it will also be available in e-book format and as an audio download.
Rather teasingly, publishers Little Brown & Co. described it as "blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising" with the unexpected death of Fairweather, a stalwart of the local parish council, becoming "the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen".
"Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war," it said in a statement.
Fairweather’s demise reveals a world in which "teenagers (are) at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils".
Ms. Rowling set the literary world buzzing when she announced recently that she was done with children’s books and planned to move on to tackle adult themes.
“Although I've enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher,” she said.
Ms. Rowling has signed a worldwide deal with Little Brown ditching Bloomsbury, publishers of the Harry Potter books which have sold more than 450 million copies. She insisted that her choice of a new publisher had nothing to do with money describing it as a "a logical progression" to have a new publisher for the “new territory” she was going to explore.”
Little Brown said they were "thrilled, honoured and proud”.