By The Canadian Press
TORONTO - "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling visits Toronto Tuesday for an appearance at the International Festival of Authors. The U.K.-based author will be reading from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final book in the popular boy-turned-teen wizard series, before hundreds of fans in a downtown theatre. She'll also answer questions from fans and hand out complimentary signed copies of the book to everyone in attendance.
This is Rowling's only Canadian appearance this fall.
Lucky little muggles got tickets to the event by random draw only. Rowling will hold a news conference before the book reading and journalists will no doubt be buzzing to see whether the author will address her recent "outing" of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Last Friday, Rowling admitted before a packed house at New York City's Carnegie Hall that the key Potter character is gay.
[edited to add]
Several days after Rowlings shock announcement, it looks like most fans are not happy with Rowlings decision to "out" Dumbledore.
"I'm a gay fan and I'm not amused," read one commenter on the AfterElton.com blog, a site devoted to gay and bisexual men in the entertainment and media industries.
"Firstly, how very 'nervy' of her to out him after all the books have come out and it won't harm her sales," the commenter wrote. "Secondly, not a single rumour of this in the books. Nothing."
Predictably, right-wing Christian groups in the United States have also weighed in following years of assailing the "Harry Potter" series due to its focus on witchcraft. This time, Rowling's alleged crime is making homosexuals seem normal and kind-hearted to young readers.
"Part of the theme of the books is the fact that the adult world is very secretive. Book by book, Harry Potter finds himself drawn into these adult machinations, and Dumbledore is presented as a man of great secrets, so this just adds one more layer to him," he said.
"J.K. Rowling is a smart enough woman that she knows if she'd waved the rainbow flag, it was just going to draw attention in a way that she didn't want; it would have taken away from the story and become a distraction. I think the way she's handled it is perfect."
But Canadian children's author Eva Wiseman, who's nominated for a Governor General's Award for her book "Kanada," wondered why Dumbledore's sexuality was relevant at all in an adventure series of children's books about wizardry and witchcraft.
"If you have a character and if the fact that he's gay is important to the plot, of course you would mention it. If you needed it to make the book more relevant or advance the plot, then you would mention it ... but if it doesn't make any difference to the plot or it's insignificant to the story, then why bother mentioning it?"
Wiseman has her suspicions.
"Maybe she needs more money!" she said with a laugh of Rowling, who is the second wealthiest female entertainer on the planet, after Oprah Winfrey.