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Have you read The Cuckoo Callling?

By 22/07/2013January 20th, 2023Uncategorized

I’ve been following the journey of The Cuckoo Calling in book circles, which is abuzz with JK Rowling masquerading as Robert Galbraith. From people accusing her of a publicity stunt to her anger at her solicitors who caused the leak, it has been an interesting story in itself.

I liked the Potter series. I may not have been in love with the writing (it could have used some editing imho, especially the last books) but there is no doubting the powerhouse storytelling and incredible world-building. And I love that she is experimenting in different genres from YA fantasy, to adult novels, and recently, to crime. I’m going to download the book as soon as I’ve whittled down my reading list a bit. I’m in no hurry, something tells me the book won’t go out of print any time soon.

I’m mostly amused with a prediction by Mark Lawson while reviewing the outed book:

“For the next few years, the book business could become something like the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition during the years when the press believed that the Prince of Wales was exhibiting under alibis. Just as clumps of reporters would gather around innocuous watercolors that turned out genuinely to be the work of Wiltshire vicars, so there will be sudden runs on debut books that an online buzz attributes to the creator of Harry Potter.”

The incident has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that big names mean big business, and if Rowling adopts new pseudonyms each year, readers/ media would go on wild-goose chases to figure out if a rumored Rowling book is actually written by her. The rest of the writing world (including quite a few perhaps as capable as Rowling, but without her stratospheric status) will continue to toil with their writing and limited marketing budgets.

What did you think of the whole affair?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Jigar says:

    I didn't read much into it, but the cynic in me told that it was a publicity gimmick. And it actually paid off.
    Sales have sky-rocketed ever since the revelation.

    Want to get my hands on it as soon as possible and read.

  • Priya says:

    It's a good strategy: After all, so many people were disappointed with The Casual Vacancy because they went in looking for a Harry Potter book. So she writes with a pseudonym, gets a considerable amount of good (and fair) reviews, for a supposed debut. What lacks at this point, is sales. So the word gets out, intentionally or otherwise, that the book is actually written by JK and it shoots up all bestseller lists within days. She proved she can get good feedback without the name and made sure she made money from the book as well!

  • Thanks for the like! I'm reading The Cuckoo's Calling now, having joined the millions doing so since the revelation (aren't we shallow?). What strikes me, as with the Harry Potters, are her great ability to plot and to fill her characters with life. Those are her real strengths, not the style which is solid but not breathtakingly outstanding.
    I'm not surprised she wrote under a pseudonym this time. What book could possibly have justified the ridiculous hype that preceded "The Casual Vacancy"?

  • I haven't read The Cuckoo's Calling…but then again, I'm also the one person on the planet who hasn't read Harry Potter! XD

  • Jay Noel says:

    I think this whole thing just adds another layer of fun drama industry. I'm pretty sure she didn't want to be found out.

    Writing under a pseudonym probably felt like freedom for JK Rowling.

  • I believe that someone as famous as her likes the anonymity of it. The same way actors are typecast, authors can be too. This must have been a measure of artistic freedom and a reprieve from the pressure to write something as big as her HP series.

  • Karen Lange says:

    Interesting stuff. I'm not sure what I think of the whole affair! Like you said, as the rest of us toil on…

    It reminds me of when celebrities are interviewed after having babies and are asked about child rearing and the whole parenting experience. Somehow they seem to be bigger experts than the non famous parents out there. Go figure.

  • Sherry Ellis says:

    I guess it's a way to relieve the pressure of having to write something that's as good as your first books, but what's the point if everyone ends up finding out it's you, anyway?

  • Dana says:

    I probably won't read it. Then again, I'm the only person in the world who hasn't read Harry Potter. Yikes!

  • Jo says:

    Not sure I will bother with the book.

  • I haven't read it yet, though I do plan to at some point. I completely understand why she used a pseudonym. I mean, if I'd written an enormously popular series that the whole world adored (I can dream, right?!), I'd also want some anonymity for a while to escape the enormous pressure that would come with trying to write anything after that super successful series.

  • I don't know why JK choose a pseudonym for her new book. Is it for walling up her finance or creating ripples in the realm of literature or stealing the attention of book lovers? But then, whatever name she chooses or whatever avatar she dons, her books are worth reading with strong story lines.

  • Damyanti says:

    Alex, I hope so 🙂

    Hillary, it would be, I guess. I've read an excerpt and I love the atmosphere she's created.

    Sheena, yes she did. It demonstrated the importance of a name in the industry.

    Mary, no, I don't think any one would mind a bump in sales.

  • Trisha F says:

    Hey, stopping by to answer your question from my blog 🙂 I'd be happy to swap a novel for critique, though I'd need an idea as to what sort of critique you want. Big picture, or nitpicky? 😀 Also, I have many genres to choose from with my drafts and not all of them are anything beyond a rough draft. If you want to talk about it on email my address is tay [dot] sedai [at] gmail [dot] com 🙂

  • M Pax says:

    Can I claim I'm a pseudonym for JK or someone else? 😀 I don't think anyone would mind the bump if mistaken for her.

  • Haven't read but Rowlings did try.

  • To be mistaken for JK Rowling would be quite an honor 🙂 I think anyone would take it. I haven't read the book yet, but probably will. Haven't heard much about it other than that she wrote it.

  • Maybe a few new authors will sell more books because everyone thinks they are Rowling?

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