Thursday, March 21, 2013

Town Council Politics & Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

I've previously posted about corruption in India.  How about some shady dealings a little closer to home?

From today's San Francisco Chronicle article "Ex-officials convicted in Calif. corruption case:"
Five former city councilors in a small, blue-collar Los Angeles suburb that became a symbol of political greed were convicted Wednesday of stealing taxpayer money by creating a panel that helped boost their part-time pay to nearly $100,000 a year... The trial was the first such proceeding following revelations that Bell's leadership had bilked the hardscrabble city of $5.5 million, using the money to pay huge salaries to the city manager, police chief, City Council members and others... At the heart of the case is whether the six officials broke the law by paying themselves annual salaries of up to $100,000 to govern only part-time in the city of 36,000 people where one in four residents live below the poverty line.
What's a novel about local council scheming? The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling:
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

UPDATE:  There's a good review of The Casual Vacancy on Novelicious (and also on Pagelady).

1 comment:

  1. Windy City by Scott Simon is also very good. Chicago politics!

    In a novel as brawling and boisterous as Chicago itself, Scott Simon delivers a tale both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, capturing the multiethnic tumult of big city politics.

    The mayor of Chicago is found in his office late at night, murdered, facedown in a pizza. As police race to find the killer, the interim mayor, Sundaran “Sunny” Roopini, tries to juggle his responsibilities as a recently widowed father of two teenage daughters while herding his forty-nine fellow city aldermen toward choosing a new mayor. Over the course of four days, this raft of colorful characters–heroes, rascals, and pinky-ringed pols of all creeds, colors, and proclivities–will clash, as Sunny, a flawed but decent man, tries to hold together his family and his city.