The literary world was all atwitter yesterday with news that Harper Lee, the reclusive author of To Kill A Mockingbird, will be publishing a new novel later this year. In fact, the novel isn’t “new” but was written before To Kill A Mockingbird, and has been hidden away for all these years.
The novel, Go Set a Watchman, is a sequel of sorts to Mockingbird, taking place 20 years after the story, with Scout going home to see Atticus during the blossoming Civil Rights movement of the 1950s. Legend is that her editor at the time told her that she should write the story of Scout as a child instead, which she did.
While I certainly join people in looking forward to reading the book, I’m very skeptical that the notoriously reclusive Lee, who has refused to publish anything in fifty years, authorized the publication of this book, or is even aware of it.
Up until yesterday, most accounts of Lee have shown her to be mostly blind, deaf, and incapacitated. A couple of years ago there was a lawsuit claiming that her agent attempted to swindle her out of her copyright to Mockingbird. Everything I’ve read about Lee is that she is unable to make decisions for herself. Plus, why would she want this published now after all those years?
I’m afraid that Lee is being taken advantage of, which is a common problem with the elderly. Until shortly before her sister’s death last year at 103, Harper’s sister Alice was her attorney, and protected Harper from exploitation. Suddenly, after Alice’s death, blind, deaf, and mentally diminished Harper Lee now wants to publish a novel?
I’m not the only one who is skeptical. Here are some other articles that raise very serious points:
I want to read this new novel too, but this just feels wrong.