The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling's first foray into fiction for grownups, is nothing if not timely. The story feels especially relevant in a debate about the role of government one that seems to occupy much of the social consciousness these days. Central to the argument in this novel is a decaying subsidized housing unit, The Fields. Because of various zoning laws, The Fields is yoked to the rich and idyllic English town of Pagford even though most of the town's residents believe it should be a part of the big, neighboring city, Yarvil. Most of Pagford's citizens are convinced it is not their responsibility to subsidize welfare benefits for the junkies and drug addicts who reside in The Fields. Pagford doesn't want Fields' kids in their schools, nor do the town's morally upright citizens want to keep paying for a drug rehabilitation clinic that only Fields' residents seem to use. ...
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