J.K. Rowling’s novel upsets Sikhs

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

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Teg singh • October 4, 2012 @ 9:33 AM

    This whole narrative of Sikhs being “offended” in her novel ‘Casual Vacancy” is all the creation of Indian media and Indian intelligence agencies who want to project Sikhs as intolerant, narrow minded Taliban like. Indian Government is hell bent upon finishing Sikhs and Sikhism and will do any thing and every thing to destabilize Sikhs. In reality ALL Sikhs are very thankful to JK Rowling for portraying Sikhs and Sikhism in favorable light and giving prominent place to Sikh family in her novel.

  2. MSingh • October 4, 2012 @ 9:48 AM

    Sikhs are grateful to JK Rowling for her appreciation of Sikhism. Thank you Ms Rowling! We don’t seek a ban on your book. I will be buying a copy this weekend to read.

  3. Gurmit • October 4, 2012 @ 10:43 AM

    In India, Sikhs are despised. Many jokes are made of us in the media and by Bollywood. Our institutions are controlled and used against us as well. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal,who is responsible for picking the people like the guy saying he will get the book banned if it offends him, has gotten charged by Sikhs in America in an American court for shielding those who have tortured Sikhs. Badal’s top police chief is a man who tortured and murdered thousands of Sikhs. India wants us to have a foul image abroad like the Taliban and will get this handpicked asshole to say stuff against the book. Go by what Sikhs abroad say. I am Canadian and thank Mrs. Rowling for her portrayal of Sikhs.

  4. Roggs • October 4, 2012 @ 11:37 AM

    I’m so sick and tired of all this political correctness. Get over it. It’s a book. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure it is great considering her past track record. Everyone has the right to freedom of speach and if you don’t like what you think is in the book, don’t buy it but don’t stop other people from buying it.

  5. Trevor • October 4, 2012 @ 12:26 PM

    Is there ANYTHING they don’t get offended by?

  6. Saira • October 4, 2012 @ 12:28 PM

    I’m not Sikh…But I am South Asian. But I have a lot of Sikh friends and even just being South Asian, I find this incredibly offensive. This isn’t political correctness….this is borderline racism but people overlook it because it’s a beloved author and it’s in a fictional tone. But it’s still inappropriate! Has Rowling herself addressed this??

  7. Jaye • October 4, 2012 @ 1:31 PM

    To Saira – Have you actually read J.K. Rowling’s book? Or are you basing your opinion on what’s written above? Because if it’s the latter, it might be a good idea NOT to judge until you read the passage IN context.

  8. Jax • October 4, 2012 @ 2:30 PM

    Shades of Salman Rushdie.

  9. Mary • October 4, 2012 @ 2:33 PM

    I can’t wait to read this book as for the naysayers get a life, it’s a fictional novel political correctedness is exactly that, it’s POLITICS! There writing an update of The Night Before Christmas why because Santa is shown smoking a PIPE and he’s not considered Jolly but overweight (All those cookies and milk we left him ) and this gives children the impression it’s OK to smoke and be overweight.OMG! First off I read it as a child and then read it to my children none of us smoke Pipes or are we overweight!I wish people would just mind their own business, the majority of us are adults and believe me I think for myself. What I choose to read is my business

  10. Wendy • October 4, 2012 @ 2:42 PM

    She’s evil….folks just won’t believe it….Harry Potter books were full of actual incantations as told by true Witches and Warlocks….she is in league with the darkness.

  11. Shari • October 4, 2012 @ 2:50 PM

    Wow Wendy, you’re weird.

  12. Wendy • October 4, 2012 @ 3:24 PM

    Do some researh Shari.

  13. MSingh • October 4, 2012 @ 4:16 PM

    Apparently the news media has not updated their information (typical) and keeps on spreading the old story. The man in india who is quoted to have found it inappropiate has already admitted that he has not read the book and that he has been informed that Rowling is a nice and humble person. It appears to have been a case of misinformation that hopefully will get ignored for good.

    enjoy the book and you have the best wishes of the sikh community.

    ———- more recent update

    “So far I have not gone through the book due to its non-availability in Punjab.”

    He said that according to the information received about the author so far, “she is said to be a humble person who has great respect for the Sikh religion.

    “So in such circumstances, I wouldn’t say anything in a hurry against the author unless scrutiny board of SGPC goes through the book,” the SGPC chief said.

  14. C-Dub • October 4, 2012 @ 7:21 PM

    Really it’s writing a discription. it’s to give a person a visual in their heads. I guess any fictionalized character in any book should certainly of had their descriptions minimalized as to not actually offend anyone who might think the story is totally about them or what they think is a generalized depiction of their kind.
    Wow. but up above there were comments by people claiming to be Sikh and if they are fine with it, then good on them for having an open mind and taking it with a grain of salt.

    Cheers and lets not all get bend out of shape.

  15. USASUCKSBALLS • October 4, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

    The sheeple just love Harry Potter.

  16. Red • October 4, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

    Thanks wendy, I needed a giggle. As for Rowling, although I don’t find this book’s genre to be exactly my taste, the Potter books were awesome. I don’t believe she was in any way trying to take a stab at anyone.

  17. Phil • October 4, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

    Wendy, you appear to be caught up in some strange dogma. could you please show us in the bible where it specifically mentions witches or warlocks? all the witches or warlocks I know worship nature and the earth. it was the Catholic Church who first mentions them during the great inquisition followed by the ultra conservative Quakers in the states during the salem trials. those who follow the “darkness” as you so quaintly put it would be better known as demons, succubi, etc.
    as one who follows my Viking gods, I would be pleased to help educate you on the torture, massacre, and attempt at genocide by the catholic church throughout history of any people who did not follow their Christian beliefs even though their only crime was that they followed what the church deemed to be pagan beliefs.
    I hope that one day all people will understand that we are one race (homo homo sapien)on this pretty blue rock and we had better start getting along or pray that there isn’t anyone watching us because they just might decide we don’t deserve this pretty rock.

  18. Sikh Tejinder • October 5, 2012 @ 1:28 AM

    its never seen before any one from the Great Britain, had hurt the feeling of Sikhs, UK is best country for Sikhs and every British know who are the Sikhs, there might be some misunderstanding about the character description in J.K. Rowling’s new book, otherwise no way to get upset for Sikhs.

  19. Cheryl • October 5, 2012 @ 2:22 AM

    I’m sick and tired of these sikhs and muslims being offened over everything.If you don’t like books chirstmas,etc. Go back to your own country and if your from Canada ,Usa keep your own traditions but let us keep ours and if a book offeneds you don’t bother reading it.

  20. MSingh • October 5, 2012 @ 9:44 AM

    cheryl, it doesn’t look like you have been following the reaction of sikhs on this matter. sikhs are not for the ban. and by the way when did you see sikhs protesting against christmas. i am a sikh and i celebrate christmas with my christian friends like many other sikhs i know of. About rowling’s book you can read the following from a sikh website by clicking on my name

  21. Rick • October 5, 2012 @ 9:52 AM

    Didn’t read the article, not because of lack of interest but because there are flashing gifs beside it.

    So royally annoying to have things flashing at you beside what you are trying to read.

  22. Cait • October 5, 2012 @ 1:31 PM

    It is a book of fiction . . . . .FICTION people. If we banned every book that had a character in it who spoke about a faith/ and or culture in a negative way well we wouldnt have any books! George Orwell’s 1984 comes to mind . . . .

  23. Edwin.Therrel • October 6, 2012 @ 4:52 AM

    Frankly, I have waited a long time to read about Sikhs in a Caucasian setting. They are a great people, warm and loving. I own a bookshop in a college and i cant wait to read this book and provide it as a must-read to others. Rowling’s work has so far been appreciated by the old and young. I believe Sikhs are one of the most vital non-white community we have both in Britain and North America. They deserve recognition in return for adopting the west as their new homes.

    From a continent apart,

    Edwin J. Therrel

  24. Jaspreet • October 6, 2012 @ 9:34 AM

    I’m a Sikh. I’ve almost read the whole book and have not been offended by even one thing. That is what I heard from every other Sikh. The old man in India now, obviously someone from an Indian agency came up to him and said all this stuff to get him riled up.Sikhs are a hated group in India, hundreds of thousands murdered, made fun of in in the movies, their killers made into heroes by Bollywood, etc. India has an interest in portraying Sikhs as intolerant types. Too bad dumb ass Makkar played right into the hands of his anti-Sikh masters.

  25. Jaspreet • October 6, 2012 @ 9:40 AM

    Cherly, it is because of people like you that some even bother with such a thing called propaganda. People who are idiots like you just making up lies. You are as dumb as the Sikh idiot condemning the book without even reading it (a dumb conceited prick is what I think he is and yeah I am Sikh).

  26. gbh999 • October 9, 2012 @ 6:59 AM

    People … Can we just get over who is being insulted, for whatever reason, and by which author? Please, it is time to get with the program. Like John Lennon tried to tell us 30 years ago. All we really need is LOVE. Everything else, will then pale, by comparison.

  27. arafat yusufzai • September 12, 2014 @ 9:47 AM

    sikhs get offended very easly.. they are so intolrent and cant integrate with people of country they live.. I remember a incident when a some saint whome sikh thought resembeled like there guru when dressed in some event like him.. and that was it to offend them and it triggered outrage among them.. very next moment we se thousands of sikh mobs come out on street for protesting displaying dagger and sword rampaging public and private property

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