Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Article relating Harry Potter Books

An Article relating Harry Potter Books

With films bankrolled by the biggest studios in Hollywood and Potter-related merchandise falling off the shelves, Harry Potter had taken over the consciousness of a generation of children.

Like a supersonic jet, fuelled by a massive global publicity campaign, Harry Potter circled the globe. From China and New Zealand to Norway and the US, every country reacted in a similar manic way – a television – obsessed, a book – loathing generation metamorphosed into readers. In India too, the reception was no different. Adults and children devoured the books, happy to live in Harry’s world, to travel with him to Hogwarts, to watch proudly as he became the youngest member of his house Quidditch team, and to root for him as he, at grave cost to his life, fought off Lord Voldemort.

Samit Basu says ‘Given the lack of contemporary Indian children’s fiction, parents don’t know what to get their kids. Harry Potter is a great option. The movies and merchandising have also made it reach epical proportions. As someone who’s read all five books, I feel it is high quality, intelligent entertainment’.

A lawyer in Delhi says ‘Harry Potter Books are a great way to escape from reality. I have always enjoyed fantasy fiction. Here it’s a bit of both – a fantastical environment where the characters face real world issues.

The latest Potter book has been the best seller at (through pre-booking) for the last six months.

Apart from the big five cities in India, Potter has attracted quite a following in smaller towns as well.

Parents, too, are awaiting the new book, some even more excited that their children.

What accounts for Harry’s ubiquitous charm? Perhaps it is because the magical world and the real world collide so effortlessly, what Indian actor Rahul Bose likes to call “magic realism” for children. “I think it appeals to an Indian reader because it’s a time tested formula of good versus evil that has been built into our folklore and mythology”, he says.

Sayoni Basu, editor says, “Also, Rowling is very good at creating a sense of empathy with the characters within the world of magic.” There is also the gargantuan publicity and marketing campaign behind the Potter books. “I read the books obsessively,”. “But Harry Potter’s phenomenal success is also a success of marketing.”

The first book [Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone] to really blur the divide between adult and children’s fiction (it even prompted Bloomsbury to create adult editions with ‘grown-up’ jackets), Harry Potter is book marketing coming of age. “Even those that may not want to read the book have Harry Potter bombarding them from everywhere,” says media sociologist Samina Thapar. “Whether it’s through the Internet, the films and the related merchandise. It’s really media feeding off media.”

As for the violence, most parents remain calm and openly encouraging of the books. “Life is a little dark so I don’t see a reason why we can’t expose our children to some dark reading,” says a lawyer.

Like Rowling’s distinction between Muggles and non-Muggles, the world, it seems, is increasingly becoming divided into those that read Harry Potter and those that don’t. So which side are you on?

With Sangeeta John / Mumbai &

Tathagata Bhattacharya / Kolkata

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