A novel that Harper Lee wrote in the mid-50s, before To Kill a Mockingbird, is going to be published next summer. The Guardian reports that there is much excitement.
UK and Commonwealth rights to the book were acquired by Penguin Random House. The publisher’s announcement on Tuesday was accompanied by a new photo of Lee, climbing out of a car and smiling. The news has been kept secret from all but a handful of staff at the publisher, and publicity director Charlotte Bush said that when it was revealed this afternoon, a series of screams went up around the office.
Well you know how people in publishing are. They’re screamers.
At Foyles booksellers in London, Jonathan Ruppin described the news as being “as big as it gets for new fiction”. “We can close the book on the bestselling novel of 2015 right now. At Foyles today, we’re absolutely fizzing with excitement and frenzied speculation: it’s the only topic of conversation,” said the bookseller, adding that even though To Kill a Mockingbird has long been acknowledged as a classic, it “is a book that still surprises new readers with its power. Its story is arresting and profound, its characters vivid and entirely convincing, so the prospect of a follow-up, after all these years, is giddyingly thrilling”.
I’m still calm about it. I can tell you one thing though – it won’t be anything like as bad as the last piece of fiction (or writing of any kind) that J D Salinger published. That was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever read. Literally that: embarrassing. It was basically his absurd fantasy life, spread out in huge detail, but by some strange accident published in the New Yorker. Don’t ever publish your fantasy life in the New Yorker.
Harper Lee’s new-old novel won’t be that bad.