Feverish excitement surrounds Harper Lee book release
Excitement soared with the publication of Harper Lee’s eagerly awaited, but controversial second novel as her lawyer hinted the reclusive 89-year-old may have written a third book.
The global release of “Go Set a Watchman” is one of the biggest literary events in years. Thanks to pre-orders, it has been the number one best-seller at online retailer Amazon for months, and publisher HarperCollins has ordered a first print run of two million copies.
Lee’s only previous novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is considered a 20th century masterpiece that defined racial injustice in the Depression-era South and became standard reading in classrooms.
Published in 1960, it was translated into more than 40 languages and adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.
In Lee’s home town of Monroeville in Alabama, where she lives in strict privacy at a nursing home, the small community’s only secular bookstore is celebrating with a launch party at midnight.
The Ol’ Curiosities and book Shoppe is offering special editions with embossed title pages to customers who pre-order and promises a Peck impersonator will amuse revellers.
The shop says it has sold 7,000 pre-ordered copies — more than the town’s estimated population of 6,300. About half of those orders will be shipped around the United States and overseas, it says.
In New York, where Lee used to live, Barnes and Noble is to open its flagship Fifth Avenue branch at 7am (1100 GMT) to accommodate sales.
On Monday, an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal by Lee’s lawyer sought to quell some of the controversy about how “Watchman” was discovered — after lying hidden for more than half a century — and hinted that there may also be a third novel.
Tonja Carter said experts “directed by Lee” would be authenticating all documents in her safe-deposit box at a bank in Monroeville, including unidentified pages that she found last week.
“Was it an earlier draft of ‘Watchman’ or of ‘Mockingbird’ or even as early correspondence indicates it might be, a third book bridging the two?” she wrote in the Journal.