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Book buzz

The casual million: Bookworm is all curled up and kicked about J.K. Rowling’s first book since Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy, which will hit city stands at 2.30pm on Thursday, September 27. Published by Little, Brown & Co., an imprint of Hachette, Rowling’s foray into adult fiction has notched up pre-orders of around one million across the world. In Calcutta, Hachette is bringing in 7,000 copies in the first instalment.

Even as the world waits impatiently for a glimpse of the new avatar of the woman who sold 450 million copies and reportedly made 560 million for herself with her seven-part fantasy series, the alleged “adult” content of her next offering has set the web abuzz.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, “Far from her usual wizard descriptions of fantastical battles between good and evil, Miss Rowling’s new tale is said to be one of class warfare, prostitution, heroin addiction and teen sexuality.”

Leaked tidbits from the book, like a boy “with an ache in his heart and in his balls” or a girl’s “miraculously unguarded vagina”, have stirred up as much anticipation and amusement as shock and indignation among fans.

“There is no part of me that feels I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher,” the 47-year-old mother of three told The New Yorker recently, defending her right to write about whatever she wanted to.

Priced at Rs 850, The Casual Vacancy is set in an idyllic English village called Pagford, where the sudden death of the parish councillor leads to a vacancy in the local government. The ensuing election campaign exposes the many chasms within the seemingly close-knit bunch of villagers. Grab your copy and find out if Rowling’s muggles can make magic too!

Greg’s back: If you are curious about what really goes on at a film set or if you are in love with the the diary — rather “journal” — of the not-so-wimpy Greg Heffley, you don’t need to wait for the India release of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

Wimpy Kid writer Jeff Kinney is back with yet another book. But this time it’s non-fiction, based on behind-the-scenes accounts of the Wimpy Kid movies.

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood (Puffin, Rs 299) comes complete with photographs, script pages, storyboard sketches and costume designs. The comic illustrated series was first made into a film by 20th Century Fox in 2010. Two more movies have been made since. Directed by David Bowers, Dog Days released in the US a few days back and will hopefully come to India soon.

Looking into the making of three motion pictures, the Movie Diary touches upon subjects like an actor’s downtime and designing props. Right from the pre to the post stage, the production of the movies is captured in the book in a lively manner. The movies star American actor Zachary Gordon as Greg, Steve Zahn as his father and Robert Capron as his mate Rowley Jefferson.

Writers’ corner: ‘Discover a world of unlimited stories...’ True to its tagline, Wattpad stores a lot of stories. This is an online platform for readers and writers to come together and communicate. From amateurs and first-timers to the seasoned, the authors are varied and so are the genres. Romance, horror, humour, fantasy, paranormal — Wattpad seems to be THE go-to place to read new authors and also turn into one, if you please.

Here aspiring authors can pen a story that they are not so sure about taking to the publishers. And if luck has it, one might even end up like 18-year-old Abigail Gibbs, who secured a six-figure book contract with HarperCollins UK and America for her story The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire, which she had initially posted on Wattpad. The Twilight-inspired tale by the young English girl from Devon already has some 6,939,832 reads, and 32,473 votes, and is expected to be published by late September. A rough draft is still available on Wattpad.

Those interested can sign up through Facebook, Twitter or a fresh account (if you care to remain anonymous) and start off by building your reading list, voting for authors and getting free reviews from readers. It’s easily accessible through your handset and quite user-friendly.

Fang fiction: Talking of vampires, there seems to be a “bloody” lot of these batty characters roaming the book world, though no one’s really complaining. And if there are vampires, can vampire hunters, necromancers and all the otherworldly legendary creatures be far behind?

So, what’s the first name that you can sink your teeth into? Anita Blake, of course! For the uninitiated, she is the ultimate vampire huntress who brings the dead back to life for a living. Called “The Executioner” by the fearful vampires, the hot and suave Blake was introduced to the world of urban fantasy novels by Laurell Kaye Hamilton in 1993 with Guilty Pleasures. Set in the fictional city of St. Louis, where the undead are given citizen rights, the book finds Blake investigating a serial killer of vampires.

The 21st title in the Anita Blake series, Kiss the Dead (Berkley Publishing Group, Rs 1,638 — imported edition) was released recently. An imaginary feast, Blake would also have been a visual feat but the movie plans have been shelved for now. However, a number of Anita Blake books have been adapted into comic novels by Marvel Comics and Dabel Brothers Productions since 2006.

Shortlist season: Days after the Man Booker Prize 2012 shortlist was announced in London, the shortlist for the Economist Crossword Book Award 2011 was revealed in New Delhi on September 20. In its 11th year, the award received over 350 entries, its highest ever. The final results will be announced on October 18, two days after the Booker.

The only Indian Booker contender from India, Jeet Thayil, is also on the Economist Crossword list.

This year, there’s no award for children’s writing though the shortlist includes five titles in this category. That’s because, according to the jury, “We didn’t find the quality of timelessness that so distinguishes award-winning material. We have listed five books for honorable mention. There is no award this year.” Here’s the

Shortlist in the four categories:

FICTION

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh [Penguin India].

The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy [Hachette India].

The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy Bhattacharya [Westland].

The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya [Penguin India].

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil [Faber & Faber].

NON-FICTION

Taj Mahal Foxtrot by Naresh Fernandes [Roli Books].

A Free Man by Aman Sethi [Random House India].

His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhash Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire by Sugata Bose [Allen Lane].

Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish by Arshia Sattar [Penguin].

Tinderbox by M.J. Akbar [HarperCollins].

Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S. Hussain Zaidi [Westland].

Indian translation

In Freedom’s Shade by Anis Kidwai, translated by Ayesha Kidwai [Penguin].

Yellow is the Colour of Longing by K.R. Meera, translated by J. Devika [Penguin].

Seventeen by Anita Agnihotri, translated by Arunava Sinha [Zubaan Books].

The Story of Felanee by Arupa Kalita, translated by Deepika Phukan [Zubaan Books].

Kocharethi: The Araya Woman by Narayan, translated by Catherine Thankamma [Oxford University Press].

Children

Raja & the Giant Donut by Prashant Pinge [Leadstart Publishing].

The Mystery of MindNet by Aniruddha Sen Gupta [Scholastic Books].

Mayil will not be Quiet by Niveditha Subramaniam & Sowmya Rajendran [Tulika Publishers].

Beyond the Blue River by B. Vinayan [Tulika Publishers].

Mumbai Rollercoaster by Rajorshi Chakraborti [Hachette India Children’s Books].

What’s got your goat? A young Najeeb, recently married, dreams of making it big some day — like most of us. His wish is to go to the Gulf and earn pots of money. But as soon as he lands there, he is whisked away by an Arab animal farm supervisor and herded off to take care of goats. Set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Goat Days (Penguin, Rs 250) by Benyamin has been translated from Malayalam by Joseph Koyipally. The book centres around Najeeb’s heightening desperation as he realises that he is nothing more than a prisoner in the arid Arab land, where he is starved, beaten and has no other company but that of the goats.

Having won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for the original work Aadu Jeevitham in 2009, Goat Days by the 41-year-old Bahrain-based Benyamin promises to be a sensitive read. It’s a simple story that puts in words Najeeb’s thoughts as he begins to think of himself as a goat and dreams of escaping his desert prison.