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J.K. Rowling’s latest novel is about a female celebrity harassed by social media users

JK Rowling, transgender inmates, New Jersey
JK Rowling in 2011Photo: Shutterstock

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has just released a new book about a female celebrity who is publicly called out for her transphobic views.

No, it’s not an autobiography. It’s The Ink Black Heart, the sixth installment of the Cormoran Strike crime thriller series, written under Rowling’s male pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Though Rowling swears the book isn’t about her, online commenters seriously doubt it, and the book’s reviewers have been unimpressed at best.

In the book, a woman named Edie Ledwell is the co-creator of a popular YouTube cartoon called The Ink Black Heart. Ledwell starts being harassed by her own fans, internet trolls, and an online figure known only as Anomie when her cartoon is criticized as “racist and ableist, as well as transphobic for a bit about a hermaphrodite worm,” according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Ledwell’s home address is then leaked online (something that happened to Rowling), she receives rape and death threats (which also happened to Rowling), and she’s later found stabbed to death in a cemetery (which, thankfully hasn’t happened to Rowling).

“The book takes a clear aim at ‘Social Justice Warriors,'” the magazine states, “and suggests that Ledwell was a victim of a masterfully plotted, politically fueled hate campaign against her.”

Despite the book’s parallels to her own life, Rowling swears it’s not based on her own experiences.

She recently told gay comedian Graham Norton, “I should make it really clear, after some of the things that have happened the last year, that this [book] is not depicting [that]. I had written the book before certain things happened to me online. I said to my husband, ‘I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,’ but it genuinely wasn’t. The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened.”

However, online commenters aren’t buying her claim. Others pointed out that her male pen name is seemingly taken from Robert Galbraith Heath, a real-life American psychiatrist who claimed to turn a gay man straight by implanting electrodes in his brain and causing seizures. His work is widely seen as unethical, and he’s rarely cited in psychological research.

Rowling has said the pen name is a combination of Robert F. Kennedy, a politician she admired, and “Ella Galbraith,” a pseudonym she used in her youth.

The Telegraph gave her book three out of five stars, the review equivalent grade of a D on a report card. The Times’ review stated, “No crime thriller should be 1,012 pages long,” noting the book’s 107 chapters.

In 2019, Rowling came out as a transphobe by tweeting her support for an anti-transgender activist. Since then, she hasn’t stopped attacking transgender people. She regularly spreads fearmongering misinformation about how trans women would potentially commit assaults if allowed in women’s restrooms, has written long essays denigrating trans women, repeats baseless conspiracy theories about kids being coerced into transitioning, and promotes transphobic merchandise vendors on social media.

Her comments have led several stars of the Harry Potter film franchise to distance themselves from the author and her views.

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