Rowling, J(oanne) K(athleen)
(British, 1965– )
In the all-too-frequently hyperbolic world of publishing, few today would dispute the claim that Rowling's Harry Potter books make up one of the most extraordinary literary phenomena of the turn of the twenty-first century. They have attracted a vast following with their broad readership of children and adults alike, they have generated unprecedented publicity (enhanced by the release of the first feature film in 2001) and have seen even the most reading-averse children skipping school (and their parents skipping work) to queue up for each new instalment. The seven-book series (of which five have been published to date) describes young Harry's seven years at ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’. And—cynics please note—they are very good indeed. The set-up is recognizable from much traditional children's literature—boarding-school story meets wizard-fantasy story meets poor-orphan-forced-to-live-with-nasty-aunt-and-uncle story—but Rowling carries it off with great originality, charm, and humour. Begin, of course, with the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997; … and the Sorcerer's Stone in the US); you won't need to be told what to do next.
Ursula Le Guin, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien DHa