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Books News: Harper Lee Sequel

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A sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is set to be published later this year after lying undiscovered for over 50 years.

The sequel, titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published in North America, on 14th July 2015, by HarperCollins. The manuscript was rediscovered by Lee’s lawyer Tonja Carter in late 2014, attached to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird. It will be published in the UK by William Heinemann.

photo credit: pinterest
photo credit: pinterest

Go Set a Watchman, set twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird in the mid-1950s, centres once more on Scout Finch, the protagonist of Lee’s original novel. The sequel details her return to the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, from New York, to visit her father Atticus. The issues she now faces include her attempt to understand her father’s attitude towards society, and her own attitudes towards her hometown.

Commenting on the planned publication, Lee, now 88, said: “In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort.”

“My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it.

“After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

Attitudes towards the planned release of Lee’s second novel have been mixed, with concerns raised that the author has been manipulated into releasing the book.

Actress Mia Farrow tweeted: “Is someone taking advantage of our national treasure, 88 year old Harper Lee [sic]?”

However, in a series of emails and text messages to the New York Times on 7 February, Tonja Carter said that Lee is “extremely hurt and humiliated” by suggestions she has been manipulated.

Lee herself has expressed her happiness towards the reactions to the new novel.

“I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to ‘Watchman,’” Lee said in a statement said to have been given to Carter on 4 February.

Kate Jones

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