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JK Rowling - Which culture?

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Tony Curzon Price was Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy from 2007 to 2012, where he is now contributing editor and technical director. He blogs at tony.curzon.com

When JK Rowling was interviewed by Razia Iqbal (go to minute 22 or so) on the BBC this morning, there were a few intriguing directions the story almost went in. Rowling is auctioning a single copy of a book of fairy tales, and donating the revenues to children's mental health in Eastern Europe.

What a dream for an arts corespondent: from questions about the aura of a single book in an age of mass mechanical reproduction; to the content of the stories; to whether the medievalist exclusivity of a single illuminated book is an elitist slap in the face to paperback-clutching fans, and even on to why Rowling has chosen this good cause above all others ... the field was immense and Rowling is a willing and engaging interviewee.

But however much Razia Iqbal started in any of these directions, there was one direction that kept pulling her back: Rowling's huge wealth. First we had to be told that having sold millions of books, she was very wealthy; then, a few minutes later, that "Rowling never needs to write again" [for a living], and then, a few minutes later, Rowling was asked whether she was motivated by guilt, "since she has so much"...

However huge Rowling's wealth, that is not why she is interesting. She has captured the imagination of a generation of children. Let us hear from the mind that did that. When Warren Buffet comes on air, please don't ask him about his short-story writing.


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