J.K. Rowling’s latest novel, The Casual Vacancy, arrived in bookstores last Friday and appears to be rubbing some people the wrong way. Rowling — now the 12th richest woman in the U.K. due to the success of her epic wizard Harry Potter book series — already offended many of the small Tutshill, Gloucestershire village residents where she was raised because she reportedly used the pretension and snootiness she experienced there as source material for the fictional town of Pragford in her new book.
Now it appears Rowling’s description of Sikh character Sukhvinder as “moustachioed yet large-mammaried” has landed her in hot water with those of the Sikh faith as well. Sukhvinder is called “the Great Hermaphrodite” and “hairy man-woman” by a bully in the book. A spokesperson for India’s Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee calls the terms offensive and claims that “if deemed derogatory to the Sikh faith, we will demand a ban on it. We will make sure it doesn’t sell in India.”
This criticism comes as a surprising blow to Rowling’s image as an author whose past writings strive to empower people of all different cultures and appearances. A spokesperson for Rowling’s publisher, Hachette, stated, “It is quite clear in the text of the book that negative thoughts, actions and remarks made by a character, Fats, who is bullying Sukhvinder, are his alone.” ~ Brandon Bastaldo