Barry Fairbrother dies giving rise to a vacancy in the Parish council. There are many aspirants for the vacant post. J K Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy, is partly about the struggles of the aspirants to materialise their dream. The novel is more about such social issues as juvenile aberration, pornography, drug addiction, and child abuse.
The novel presents a terribly bleak and partly frivolous world. Linguistic obscenity hangs heavily on the reader’s mind as he/she turns pages hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel. But all that you will get is more and more darkness. Rowling is writing about a society that shrugs at revelations of evil. A character in the novel, the adolescent Stuart “Fats” Wall, tries to defeat his father in the Parish council election by hacking into the council’s website and posting a report that his father was a thief, only to realise that “the world, it seemed, had merely shrugged. Evil is a natural concomitant of existence in such a world.
Sons and daughters fighting their parents, adults deceiving their friends, parents fighting their children... there’s a whole lot of fighting throughout the novel. There’s fornication and adultery. There’s lust of all hues.
The adolescent “Fats” may be taken as the metaphorical protagonist of the novel. Apparently he is the only character who is in search of something beyond the given world. He “had discovered,” says the novel, that other people “were mired in embarrassment and pretence, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labelled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”
Fats is on a quest “to be who you really were, even if that person was cruel or dangerous, particularly if cruel and dangerous” [emphasis in original].
The novel presents a lot of darkness. Superficiality and resignation to the status quo. Varieties of perversions. The innocent child dies in this world...
PS. I bought this book tempted by a 70% discount offered by an online seller.