In school there are books that have become canon for youth, books we have all read at some point in our life. Today is the birthday of the author of one of these books. She had fallen out of the public eye until it was announced last year that a new book would be hitting shelves this year. The author of whom I am speaking is Harper Lee. Her novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird” has won accolades from critics and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1960.
Things were quiet for Lee, as she slid from sight publishing only a handful of stories for magazines until it was announced in 2013 that she had sued to acquire publishing rights for “To Kill A Mockingbird” from her former agent. The case was eventually settled in September of that year. In 2014 it was announced that a rumored sequel to “To Kill A Mockingbird” not only existed but would be published and released in July of 2015. Before that could happen charges were filed to prevent its publication citing Lee had been coerced into the agreement due to her diminished capacity. Lee had suffered a stroke and had been living in a care facility. After an investigation the state of Alabama dismissed the charges and publication moved forward. The book is titled “Go Set A Watchman” and it follows now adult Scout Finch as she travels from New York to Alabama to visit her father Atticus Finch twenty years after the events in “To Kill A Mockingbird”.
There is a great deal of controversy over the release of this 304 page novel. Some, including myself fear this release will taint her legacy as a writer, much like I fear the release of further books from the Salinger estate. Does the story hold any significance that the original missed or is it simply a money grab by publishers looking to cash in on what will be a frenzy of books flying off the shelf and a renewed interest in her first novel or will it simply be another travel novel. We will all be able to make a call for ourselves in less than three months. At 88 now, Lee is not expected to tour to publicize the book; I hope she will live to see the resulting response. And I hope to be proven wrong and the book is a second masterpiece and perfect bookend to the first.