Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Go Set a Watchman: the real triumph of the book that set tills ringing

The Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird gave the US something to aspire to. Now, Harper Lee’s long-lost companion novel offers a protagonist who could make us look at ourselves anew

Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus Finch, with Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Scout, in a 2013 stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Holding a mirror up to society … Atticus Finch, played by Robert Sean Leonard, with Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Scout in a 2013 stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian
Our time with Go Set a Watchman is almost done. Soon, we can let posterity deal with it. I’m guessing that, by now, quite a few people may be glad to do so.

The release of Go Set a Watchman has been one of the most exciting and interesting moments in publishing I’ve witnessed, but even I am feeling a bit groggy. I don’t regret the hype, though. It’s hard to complain when a new book hits the top of the news agenda, thrills thousands and thousands of people and sets the tills ringing. I find it especially hard to complain when I see Harper Lee receiving her copy of the novel and expressing her happiness about it. I’m glad an 89-year-old has had another chance to see her work in print, and to see how much she still matters to the world.

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