J.K. Rowling's New Novel Tackles Addiction
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In her first novel post-Harry Potter, author J.K. Rowling moves from wizards and Hogwarts to drug addiction. The New Yorker has provided the first mini-review of The Casual Vacancy, describing it as "a story of class warfare set amid semi-rural poverty, heroin addiction, and teen-age perplexity and sexuality." The tale is set in the comfortable middle-class town of "Pagford," England, which has a drug-treatment clinic that serves both the town and a neighboring area, The Fields—a neighborhood of public housing and poverty on the edge of a larger town nearby. Right-wing residents of the community seek to rid themselves of the obligation to help the struggling Fields. One of the central characters, the prostitute and drug addict Terri Weedon, is mother to a three-year-old child. The novel draws from Rowling's personal experiences of being surrounded by poverty; she says she now feels free to write "whatever the hell I like." "I am the freest author in the world," she says. "My bills are paid—we all know I can pay my bills—I was under contract to no one, and the feeling of having all of these characters in my head and knowing that no one else knew a damned thing about them was amazing… Pagford was mine, just mine, for five years. I wrote this novel as exactly what I wanted to write."