LONDON (AP) — It may lack wizards and witches, but J.K. Rowling and her publisher are hoping her first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy," will have the magic touch.
The book's title was announced Thursday by Little, Brown & Co. along with a brief plot synopsis and publication date.
The publisher said the "blackly comic" tale of rivalry and duplicity in a small English town would be available worldwide on Sept. 27.
The book will be Rowling's first post-Potter effort. Her seven-volume saga about the adventures of a boy wizard became one of the most successful fictional series in history and led to a series of extremely popular films.
The new book, aimed at a grown-up audience, will be set in a seemingly idyllic English town called Pagford which is described as far more menacing than its pretty facade would indicate.
It opens with the sudden death of a popular man whose unexpected demise shocks the town. The battle for his seat on the local council sets off "the biggest war the town has yet seen," with rich people fighting poor, parents battling their teenagers, and wives in conflict with their husbands.
The publisher said the 480-page novel will be sold as an e-book and audio download as well as in traditional hardback form.
The seven Harry Potter novels have sold 450 million copies and have been translated into 74 languages.
Rowling's final Potter offering, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published in 2007. She published a short Potter spin-off collection of stories, "The Tales Of Beedle The Bard," in 2008.
Rowling said earlier this year she wanted to reach an adult audience, but kept the book's name and publication date secret until Thursday.
In the past, many successful children's writers have struggled to remake themselves as adult authors. Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, a successful playwright in his early years, once confessed that he was forced to say "goodbye to all that" after his beloved books about the bear and friends.
But Rowling has one advantage: the Potter books had a huge adult, as well as child, audience.
Jon Howells of British book store chain Waterstones said "The Casual Vacancy" would likely be the year's best-selling novel.
He said the synopsis came as a surprise and suggested similarities to the work of popular mystery writer Alexander McCall Smith and Mark Haddon, a children's writer who had a huge adult hit with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
"We were all expecting some sort of crime or mystery novel, but she has, refreshingly, surprised us all," Howells said.
"The plot sounds like it will have hints of Mark Haddon and McCall Smith, and the promise of black comedy is very beguiling."
Athens Christmas Open House this weekend
If you’re in the mood for a weekend filled with unique shopping, yuletide fellowship and holiday fun (and who isn’t?), make plans to be downtown for the annual Athens Christmas Open House.
- Hilltop Arts Festival: Elkmont plays host to 2nd annual event Nov. 2
- Calling all carvers: News Courier’s pumpkin carving contest kicks off
- Stephen Covey's '7 Habits' shakes up schools
22 dogs will get lucky on new CBS television show
Brandon McMillan has trained as many as 10,000 dogs for television, movies, commercials, videos and people. Then he started saving dogs from animal shelters, training them and finding homes for them.
Anthony Bourdain admits mistake on NM 'Frito pie'
Insults dished out by food critic Anthony Bourdain on an episode of CNN's "Parts Unknown" have stirred up outrage in New Mexico — and now he acknowledges that he was wrong.
The glory of a fall garden is something to behold
Fall gardening basics aren’t much different from those we practice any other time of the year. The major variation is in what is planted since these flowers and vegetables will mature under cooler (sometimes cold) conditions.
Fall heating inspections make for warmer winters
The North Alabama Better Business Bureau offers tips on how to get homes ready for the cold weather.
EPA encourages homeowners to care for their septic systems
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging homeowners to take action to ensure their septic systems are functioning properly.
- Supporting Sasha: Piney Chapel students release balloons for children with cancer
- More Lifestyle Headlines
- Athens Christmas Open House this weekend