On the final day of 2003, Slate published a small recap of events started by literary critic A.S. Byatt's scathing July review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
In what Salon called a "goblet of bile," Byatt opined that JK Rowling's enormously popular series was written for "people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons." Her comments touched off a lively and very heated counteroffensive in the HP community.
Stephen King even jumped in to the fray, blasting critics for being out of touch with readers, in his acceptance speech for a National Book Award. (For the record, King's review of Phoenix - published only days before Byatt's - was quite favorable.)
(British columnist Michelle Pauli of The Guardian also recaps the momentous month in her review of 2003's top stories.)