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LONDON – J.K. Rowling‘s new novel The Casual Vacancy is facing a potential ban in India amid criticism about its description of a Sikh character, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Sikh leaders in India are investigating complaints about the “provocative” language in the book and could demand a nationwide ban if it is deemed to have insulted the faith, it said. Meanwhile, Rowling’s publisher emphasized that any negative language in the book is only used by bullies.
The novel about a small English town includes a Sikh girl, Sukhvinder, the daughter of a surgeon who is teased for her appearance. Among other things, she is described as a “hairy man-woman” and as “mustachioed yet large-mammaried,” the Telegraph said.
The paper quoted the head of a group in India, which manages places of worship, as saying: “Even if the author had chosen to describe the female Sikh character’s physical traits, there was no need for her to use provocative language, questioning her gender. This is condemnable.”
A spokesman for the group added: “If deemed derogatory to the Sikh faith, we will demand a ban on it. We will make sure it doesn’t sell in India.”
Rowling has said she used the Sukhvinder character to portray “corrosive racism,” the Telegraph said, adding that the author has also said she admires the Sikh faith.
A spokesman for Rowling’s publisher, told the Telegraphthat the negative descriptions are used by someone bullying Sukhvinder.
“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,” the spokesman said. “When described in the narrative voice, the depiction of Sukhvinder is quite different to this.”
The Casual Vacancy hit bookstores last week and drew mixed reviews. The Harry Potter author’s first adult book since the wizard franchise has caused some debate as it deals with such issues as child abuse, prostitution and drugs. Some British conservatives have described it as a liberal attack on their values.
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