Harper Lee ‘tickled’ by buzz around Go Set a Watchman

14 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Book fans grab Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ on first day it’s on sale.

FOR more than half a century “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been revered as a literary classic, the story of Scout and Jem Finch, a young sister and brother (and their naughty friend, Dill Harris, based on Truman Capote) who are all trying to make sense of the bewildering, bigoted American South in the 1930s.Fans flocked to bookstores to snatch up their copies of Harper Lee’s highly anticipated new novel “Go Set a Watchman” as the hardback went on sale early Tuesday. The novel sold 40m copies, won a Pulitzer prize and was made into a much-loved film, starring Gregory Peck as the siblings’ father, Atticus Finch, a heroic white lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.

Mekdad Muthana, 25, was the first to grab the tome at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, arriving at 6:30 a.m. for the store’s early 7 a.m. opening. The new novel follows Scout Finch’s return home to the fictional town of Maycomb in the 1950s. “As you grow up, your views change and life changes you,” she said. “So, it’ll be very interesting to see this version compared to how the original story was. On the other side are those who worry that Harper Lee may have been somehow coerced into releasing the book, which was reportedly originally written as a draft of Mockingbird.

Before the February announcement of the discovery and release of “Watchman,” Lee had long said she would never publish another novel despite pressure from her publisher. Instead of a child, Scout is a 26-year-old woman who works in New York and has gone home on holiday, much as Ms Lee herself might have done at the time. Tay Hohoff, her legendary editor, read the draft in 1957 and wisely advised the fledgling author to rewrite the book, fleshing out the scenes of Scout’s childhood. Early reactions to the new release have focused on the shocking disclosure that Atticus Finch, far from being a hero, is an uneasy segregationist who once attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting.

As one fan tweeted, “It’s like hearing that Santa Claus beat his deer.” The book’s evolution from “Watchman” into “Mockingbird” in less than three years is remarkable.

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