New novel by Harper Lee stirs controversy

Harper Lee discussing the publication of her novel. Source:
Harper Lee discussing the publication of her novel.

A year ago, famous author Harper Lee’s original manuscript for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird was found attached to the back was a sequel to the novel called Go Set a Watchman. Lee wrote the sequel in case the first novel was a big success. She then forgot about the manuscript as the years passed.

She had handed it out to a few people she trusted, and they all said it was a worthy publication. The people who received the copies set them aside and forgot about them until a year ago, when Harper Lee’s friend and lawyer Tonja Carter found it.

“I was a first time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so I was surprised and delighted when my dear friend had 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 published after all these years,” said Lee.

When Lee was interviewed about the upcoming publication of Go Set a Watchman, she said, “ In the mid 1950’s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and as I thought it was a pretty decent effort. She is forced to grapple with issues both person and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feeling

Lee’s first and only publication until now, To Kill a Mockingbird, won the 1960 pulitzer prize and in 1962 was made into a film. When asked about the success of her novel back in 1964, she said “ I can’t say that (my reaction) was one of surprise it was one of sheer numbness. It was like being hit over the head and knocked out cold.” The success of her first novel is all that a first time writer is hoping for but the news of her second novel did not have the same reaction. Many reporters thought the book was a scam and not written by Lee.

Harper Lee is currently 88 years old and living in an assisted home in Monroeville Alabama. Her friend and lawyer is speaking and helping her make all decisions about the book.

Carter said “ Lee was feeling humiliated and hurt. She is a very strong, independent and wise woman who should be enjoying the discovery of her long lost novel. Instead she is having to defend her own credibility and decision-making.”

Controversy surrounding the book is slowly dying down and the novel will be available for purchase on July 14.

-Amanda Rinnert

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