The publication of Harper Lee's first novel, Go Set a Watchman, has been long awaited, and not without controversy. It's out on Tuesday, for everyone, but rumor has it that the first run will be sold out.
The manuscript was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but publishers rejected it and it was thought to be lost, before it was found and set for publication. The decision to publish it was not without controversy.
Lee has poor hearing and vision and resides in an assisted living facility in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. But her lawyer Tonja Carter; literary agent Andrew Nurnberg; and publisher have insisted she is delighted the book is coming out. State officials, responding to at least one complaint of possible elder abuse, determined she was alert and capable of deciding on the release of "Watchman."
From what I've read about Harper Lee, there's no doubt in my mind that she approved the decision to publish it. Being deaf and nearly blind doesn't make a person incapable of rational thought.
The book itself will also stir controversy, I'm sure.
We know this much so far about Harper Lee's new book: Atticus Finch is 72 and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; Scout is a grown woman who has a suitor most anxious to marry her.
And Scout's older brother, Jem, apparently has died.
"Go Set a Watchman" begins with Scout, otherwise known as Jean Louise Finch, returning by train to Lee's legendary Maycomb, Alabama, on one of several annual visits she makes from New York, where she is greeted by young Henry Clinton. The first chapter ran in Friday's editions of The Wall Street Journal andThe Guardian.
"Go Set a Watchman," the most unexpected second novel in memory, is coming out July 14. It takes place in the 1950s, 20 years after the setting for "To Kill a Mockingbird," Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning book. U.S. publisher HarperCollins has said that pre-orders for "Go Set a Watchman" are the highest in company history, and bookstores worldwide are planning events to celebrate the book's release.
I'm off to read that first chapter. Watchman will be available for e-readers as well as hardback and paperback versions on Tuesday, July 14th.