By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird is releasing a second book — five-and-a-half decades after her classic novel was published.
It’s called Go Set a Watchman. It was written by Harper Lee before the 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. In a press release, Lee, 88, says her editor in the mid-1950’s preferred the flashbacks of a young Scout, and asked her to write a book from the view of the girl.
Go Set a Watchman features several of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Some 20-years later, Scout, as an adult, returns from New York to her small, southern hometown where she struggles with her father’s view of society and her own feelings about the place where she was born.
“To have a book in which somebody’s reflecting on how events in their past and their childhood shaped them into the person that they are, that could be a really important discussion.” says Dr. Herman Beavers, associate professor of English and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “To see, one, Scout as an older, mature woman, but it’s also going to be interesting to put the two books into conversation, given that I see Scout as such a well-formed character in To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Thought lost forever, the original manuscript was found last fall, and will be published in July.
“It could not have come at a better time,” Dr. Beavers says, “The nation really needs to have a model coming out of literary culture about reflecting on issues of race.”
Beavers says Go Set a Watchman will be momentous, not just because it’s Harper Lee, but also because it will give fascinating insight to the writing process, as To Kill a Mockingbird was culled from this book.
Hear the entire interview with Dr. Herman Beavers: