JK Rowling called ‘Britain’s nastiest novelist’ in New Statesman review condemned as misogynistic

JK Rowling
JK Rowling has become a controversial figure because of her views on gender - CHRISTOPHE ENA/AP

JK Rowling has been called “Britain’s nastiest novelist” in an article condemned as misogynistic.

A New Statesman review argued that the Harry Potter author had become a “polemicist” and a “liberal pariah” because of her views on gender.

The piece, originally headlined “Britain’s nastiest novelist”, was condemned by many supporters of Rowling, who claimed it was sexist and unfounded.

Written by Nick Hilton, who has deleted his Twitter account since publication, it stated that Rowling had recently succeeded in “alienating her largely Left-wing millennial fanbase with gender-critical politics”.

Hilton said that her Cormoran Strike crime novels were replete with gore and dark themes. After setting out the examples of nastiness in recent works including The Ink Black Heart and The Running Grave, he stated that Rowling has evolved “from saint-like Labour Party-supporting children’s author to polemical political activist, seemingly obsessive about the tabloid media, Scottish nationalism and, most provocatively for her millennial readers, gender-critical feminism”.

He claimed that she lacks “self-awareness”  because she “condemns vicious keyboard warriors and hysterical reactionaries in her books but engages in similar behaviour herself online”.

He added: “In another world, JK Rowling could be a character in a book by Robert Galbraith: brittle, insecure, cruel.”

The assessment has provoked a furious reaction, including from John Boyne, the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, who claimed the piece was “misogynistic, disgusting & unworthy of any serious magazine”.

‘An unhinged rant’

Hadley Freeman, a journalist who has written extensively on gender issues. She wrote on Twitter:

Julie Bindel, an author, branded the claims about Rowling an “unhinged (and badly written) rant” and a “nasty attempt at revenge porn”.

Following the backlash, the New Statesman appeared to alter the original headline to “JK Rowling, Britain’s Gloriously Nasty Novelist”.

The new headline echoes the conclusion of the review, which argues that Rowling’s embrace of gritty crime fiction has amounted to an act of “taking off a mask – and showing herself in full, nasty glory for the first time”.

Rowling has become a controversial figure in recent years following her public defence of women’s spaces and support for the belief in immutable biological sex, as opposed to gender self-identification.

Her stance led various younger members of the Harry Potter franchise’s cast, including Daniel Radcliffe, to publicly condemn her gender-critical views in 2020.

The author has refused to recant her views and in 2023 stated online that she would rather go to prison than be compelled to refer to someone by their self-identified gender.

This comment came following reports that a Labour government would make attacks motivated by hatred of a victim’s gender into “aggravated offences” which could carry a two-year sentence.

A spokesman for the New Statesman said: “Our critic wrote a largely positive review of JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith series of crime novels, in which he describes the books as “electric – shocking and exciting in a way good crime fiction should be” and praises their “dizzyingly immersive” fictional world.

“Far from expressing misogynistic views, he notes that, sadly, ‘being celebrated for sheer nastiness is a privilege so often reserved for male authors’.

“We encourage everyone to read the piece in full.”

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