In 1961, Nelle Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The novel? To Kill a Mockingbird which is revered and has been on most high school reading lists for many years. I taught it to sophomores in high school. The film version starring Gregory Peck is also a classic.
Not everyone considered the novel great literature. Flannery O’Connor called it a “child’s book” while Carson McCullers accused Lee of poaching on her literary preserves. Toni Morrison called it a “white savior” narrative “that reduced blacks to onlookers in their own struggles for equal rights.”
To Kill a Mockingbird may have proved controversial in its time; however, it appears that the newly released and much anticipated Go Set a Watchman will prove even more so. The heroic figure of Atticus Finch seems disappointingly reduced in stature as Scout, now an adult and using her given name, returns to visit her father in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1950’s, 20 years after the era of Mockingbird. It seems ironic that Watchman actually preceded Mockingbird which was created at the suggestion of the editor who initially read Watchman.
Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. Probably publisher HarperCollins should have left well enough alone. From the early reviews, I doubt Watchman will benefit the reputation of the author or the publisher.
I do think that authors should always strive to write new and better work however. We need to take a chance and write what is in our hearts and minds, dare to be different, and not fear criticism.
Right now, my latest novel Dark Moon Rising is available on pre-order from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z7824A4/
My published adult books have mostly been in the mystery genre. This novel is a tribute to the Gothic tradition in literature and has elements of romance, mystery and the paranormal. Will it be well-received? Only time will tell. Certainly, not well-known writers like myself don’t draw the reading audience of a Harper Lee. But hopefully enough readers will be interested.
Let’s start a summer reading list here today:
I’ve almost finished reading The Burning Room by Michael Connelly. It’s a well-written police procedural that I recommend it to those who read this genre. Simultaneously, I am reading Linda Lael Miller’s The Marriage Charm, an enjoyable contemporary romance.
What book(s) do you want to read this summer? Any book that you would particularly recommend to other readers? If you are an author, have you written a book that you wish to recommend to readers?