Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

J.K. Rowling pulled one over on everyone by briefly pretending to be a not-famous author

Illustration for article titled J.K. Rowling pulled one over on everyone by briefly pretending to be a not-famous author

In the greatest literary revelation since it was discovered John Grisham’s novels are really naturally occurring spores formed from the bacteria in airplane seats, J.K. Rowling was unmasked this weekend as the author behind The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery novel that was released in April to little fanfare under the pseudonym “Robert Gailbraith.” The New York Times traces how Rowling was outed by London’s Sunday Times, an investigation that began after one of its writers expressed suspicion that such an assured, well-crafted novel could hail from a former military police investigator turned first-time writer.


“Nobody who was in the Army and now works in civilian security could write a book as good as this,” the paper’s arts editor Richard Brooks told the Times, presumably because he doesn’t care about being protected from foreign or domestic threats anymore. (“Hey, maybe you should call Philip Roth! Bet he could write something really good that would save your ass,” the Army will say to Brooks, next time there’s a war.)

Anyway, eventually someone behind an anonymous, now-deleted Twitter account confirmed Brooks’ suspicions and responded that Rowling was its true author, a claim that seemed to be shored up by the fact that Rowling and “Gailbraith” shared an agent, publisher, and editor. Brooks says he then sent copies of Cuckoo’s Calling, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, and Rowling’s recent “adult” novel, The Casual Vacancy, to “computer linguistic experts” who identified several similarities among them, such as the use of “Latin phrases” in Harry Potter and scenes of “drug taking” in Casual Vacancy. Further lending credence to his theory was the fact that all three books made use of the alphabet and scenes where characters are awake and talking, and that, eventually, Rowling’s people flat-out admitted it.


Naturally, after the public learned it was written not by some ordinary talented person but rather someone famous, The Cuckoo’s Calling has become a massive bestseller, jumping by 507,000 percent to become the No. 1 book on Amazon. Meanwhile, Rowling has expressed some politely British dismay at being found out so soon, saying, “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.” (That’s particularly true seeing as the feedback for Casual Vacancy, where she was judged against her own output, was far more mixed.)

Also expectedly, the NYT reports that plans are already in the works for a reprint of Cuckoo’s Calling that acknowledges the ruse—plans that, at least officially, were certainly not part of a long-term marketing strategy to “leak” this information and create a sudden surge of reader interest. And, of course, a second novel in the “Gailbraith” series is now due next summer, with “Gailbraith” likely written in noticeably smaller font.

Meanwhile, nearly seven years on and still no one’s the wiser that I am actually Beverly Cleary and that, upon completion, “Newswire” will be the greatest Henry Huggins novel ever written. Fools! When that day comes you shall all look upon my clubhouse and despair at never being admitted, for I am Beverly Fucking Cleary!

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