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Book News: J.K. Rowling 'Very Angry' That Law Firm Leaked Her Name

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • In a twist worthy of her latest detective novel, it turns out it was a lawyer's wife's best friend who leaked J.K. Rowling's identity as the "Robert Galbraith" who wrote the crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling. The law firm Russells confessed in a statement, apologizing "unreservedly" for the breach and saying that one of the firm's partners, Chris Gossage, had "reveal[ed] to his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling." Callegari apparently tweeted the news to The Sunday Times columnist India Knight. Russells added: "Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling's agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved." Rowling responded with uncharacteristic anger, writing in a statement: "A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced." The saga has a strange parallel with one of the plot lines in The Cuckoo's Calling — a supermodel, Lula Landry, hounded by press and fans, is driven into a paranoid panic wondering which of her friends was leaking her secrets to the press. Rowling, writing as Galbraith, quotes Virgil's Georgics: "Lucky is he who has been able to understand the causes of things."
  • According to The Daily Telegraph, first editions of Rowling's The Cuckoo's Calling signed by "Robert Galbraith" are going for £3,000 (about $4,500) online.
  • Martin Amis speaks to the BBC about the "burden" of his famous surname (which he shares with his father, the famous English satirist Kingsley Amis): "The Amis franchise is starting to get people down."
  • Stan Persky considers Tao Lin's Taipei in a thoughtful (though unenthusiastic) essay for The Los Angeles Review of Books: "I guess you could say that Lin's book is your standard once-a-generation report on youth anomie."
  • A new study [subscription required] says children's books reinforce gender stereotypes. Researchers led by sociologist Amy L. DeWitt write in the study, titled Parental Role Portrayals in Twentieth Century Children's Picture Books: More Egalitarian or Ongoing Stereotyping?, that children's books tend to emphasize the roles of mothers as nurturers and caregivers and fathers as breadwinners. Interestingly, the researchers say the stereotypes in children's books didn't evolve over the course of the 20th century, but remained essentially the same.
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.

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