I’m not crying, are you crying? We’re just getting word that Harper Lee is set to publish her first novel since her first novel. Titled Go Set a Watchman, the new book was written in the 1950s before being discarded and recently rediscovered. It is said to pick up from To Kill a Mockingbird and essentially act as a sequel, though Lee wrote Watchman first. It’s been more than 50 years since Lee published what would become one of the most important American novels ever written. She has lived privately in Alabama for decades, but was recently in the news when she disputed a recent biography of her by a former neighbour, The Mockingbird Next Door.
Why this news is fantastic:
1) Given the industry built around Mockingbird, if this new book wasn’t published now it certainly would have been published posthumously. This way, Lee gets editorial oversight so we can be sure that the book we are reading is the one she intended.
Why this news has me teary-eyed:
1) Harper Lee looks kind of like my babcia who probably would have been a great writer if given the chance.
2) When I read The Mockingbird Next Door and other accounts of Lee I got the distinct impression that the reason she had stopped after her first novel was that she was afraid of looking foolish. Having received so much acclaim for her first work she seemed frightened that she could never live up to expectations and so she just didn’t write. What a brave move from a cool old lady.