By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 07, 2002 01:00 AM
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“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling is threatening to sue Russian author Dmitry Yemets over a series of startlingly similar books about an 11-year-old orphan called Tanya Grotter, according to published reports.

Among the similarities between the Harry books and those about Tanya: jagged, jumbled title type; a cover sketch of a youngster flying (albeit on a musical instrument rather than Harry’s broomstick); magical spells, an orphaned main character who is bespectacled and sports a distinguishing mole on the nose.

Yemets, as quoted by ITV News, said his work was “entirely independent,” although, he added, it is, in part, meant to be a parody of Rowling’s worldwide phenomenon.

“It’s a sort of Russian answer to Harry Potter,” said a heavily accented Yemets, whom ITV labeled a specialist in Russian folklore. He said he views his books as being in a “cultural competition” with the “Harry Potter” series, which has generated sales of about 1.2 million copies in Russia.

But lawyers for Rowling, 37, say the resemblance goes far beyond the cover art, and they have threatened to sue Eksmo, the publisher of “Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass,” unless it stops publishing and marketing the title.

The first Grotter book has sold about 100,000 copies, says ITV. The second, “Tanya Grotter and the Disappearing Floor,” arrived in stores last week.

Legal tangles aside, Eksmo said it plans to publish two more “Grotter” books before the end of this year.