'The Cuckoo's Calling': J.K. Rowling Outed As Novel Writer


The veil of mystery behind the mystery novel The Cuckoo’s Calling was lifted on Sunday; The author of the adult book is not Robert Galbraith, as the cover insists, but J.K. Rowling, acclaimed, bestselling author of the Harry Potter series. Don't be decieved: you'll find no witchcraft or wizardry in these pages.

Rowling chose the name Robert Galbraith to publish The Cuckoo's Calling, which Amazon.com describes as "a brilliant mystery in a classic vein." It is an adult mystery novel of a detective, Cormoran Strike, investigating the suicide of supermodel Lula Landry. 

The 464-page secret work was published by Mulholland Books, part of Little Brown and Company, the same publisher responsible for Rowling's first adult novel titled The Casual Vacancy, which was met with "mixed reviews" according to the Wall Street Journal. When The Cuckoo's Calling was released on April 30, 2013 it has become a bestseller and "won universal praise from critics," said the Independent.

Publisher's Weekly called it "a stellar debut" that "combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime," while Boolist said the novel is "instantly absorbing," and commended "Galbraith's skilled storytelling."

According to London's Sunday Times, Rowling “had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience."

"It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name," she added. 

According to the fictitious about the author page, Galbraith was a previous member of the British Royal Military police and ex member of the Special Investigative Branch. Following these stints, he "has been working since then in the civilian security industry" and the idea for the novel "grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Little, Brown outed Rowling in response to some probing by Sunday Times, which found it fishy that a rookie author of such an alleged military background "could write such an assured debut novel." The publisher made a statement that read “Reagan Arthur, Publisher of Little, Brown and Company, announced today that it has been revealed in a Sunday Times (London) story that J. K. Rowling is the author of the novel The Cuckoo's Calling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. 

Revealing Rowland's identity proved to be a strategic move. Despite stellar reviews, the adult novel sold only about 1,500 hardback copies under the pseudonym, hardly "a sales ripple either in the U.K. or the U.S.," wrote Entertainment.com. But following the announcement, The Cuckoo's Calling surged to top the sales charts in the U.S. and U.K. alike at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, reported Deadline.com. Just one day after the news, the novel became “temporarily out of stock” on both sites in the U.S.

Rowling may have attempted to shield her fame and test her unmarked talent, free from hype and expectations. With an estimated fortune of $846 million, she is no longer depending on book sales. It appears, however, that Little, Brown still has finances to consider, and Rowling's name certainly works in their favor.  

According to Reagan Arthur, publisher of Hachette's Little, Brown & Co., the company will publish a second book in the series next summer, and the first book is currently being reprinted with a statement declaring that “Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.”