I faintly remember the day I picked up Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to read. It was the summer before sixth grade and I had read all the books I owned so I scoured my parents’ bookshelves for something new. The memory of the day and Lee’s story has faded from my memory, but I recall that I was so intrigued by the story that I completed the book in two days.
I didn’t know what significance the story carried. It was just something to read on a slow summer day. But I remember that I was touched by its contents and choked up a bit while reading. That’s the only experience I’ve had with Lee’s work. Since the release of the controversial Go Set a Watchman, I’ve debated returning to Lee’s books. I would like to re-experience her first novel and read the second for myself to see what it is about. But I have been skeptical about Go Set a Watchman because part of me believes that she was forced into publishing it. After all, she had avoided the media for years and had refused to publish another book after To Kill a Mockingbird.
I was sorry to learn that Harper Lee had passed. She died on February 19 in her hometown, Monroeville, AL. She was 89. With To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee so impacted literary canon that her novel became a staple on many high-school literature reading lists. It also won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1961, a year after it was published. Though she will be missed, her work will continue to endure and she will be remembered.
Lots of interesting bookish news was released last week. Here’s a round up:
Harper Lee’s new novel
Early last week it was announced that Harper Lee, author of the classic best seller, To Kill a Mockingbird, will release a sequel, Go Set a Watchman. The new novel is slated to be published on July 14 in both the U.S. and the U.K., but it’s already a best seller on Amazon.
The novel features an adult Scout who returns to Maycomb from New York City to visit her father, Atticus. There, she is “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.” Apparently the novel was thought lost until it was discovered by Tonja Carter, Lee’s lawyer and friend, in 2014.
According to Lee, she completed the novel in the mid-1950s but set it aside since her editor was more interested in the flashbacks of Scout’s childhood. Her editor convinced her to write a novel from the point of view of young Scout, which became To Kill a Mockingbird.