After 50 years of dormancy, critically acclaimed author Harper Lee is apparently going back to the printing press with a new book. The 88 year old author rocked the foundation of American society with her Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird, in which she explores the complicated system of race relations and the role they play in the legal system. The novel, titled Go Set A Watchman, is a “sort-of sequel” to To Kill A Mockingbird, in which Scout, the young protagonist of the first novel, embarks on a journey from New York City back to Maycomb County, Alabama, to visit her father, Atticus.
Go Set A Watchman was originally written in the 1950s, with the plot taking place 20 years after To Kill A Mockingbird, which is set in the 30’s. Ever since the publishing of Mockingbird, Lee refused to publish anything else, after witnessing its amazing success, as well as its controversy. Joyce Carol Oates, a fellow author and friend of Lee’s wrote on Twitter that Lee decided to withhold the Watchman manuscript because “[She believed] once you’re at the top, you can only go down.” Since the announcement went public, the novel has already become one of the top five most pre-ordered books on Amazon.com.
The cover of the book was also released early in February 2015; the cover randomly appeared on the British publisher’s site, as well as on Amazon. HarperCollins Publishers, the North American publisher of Lee’s previous works, has yet to feature it at all, but the image has been abuzz on social media.
Almost as talked about as the novel itself, Lee’s declining health, both mental and physical, has been a topic of discussion for both readers and critics alike. Although the manuscript was finished at around the same time as it’s predecessor, when Lee was 33, her health is a state of serious decline. Lee currently resides in an assisted living facility, and was traumatized by the recent death of her sister Alice in 2014. According to onlookers, she “talked loudly to herself at times during the service... and mumbled in a manner that some in attendance found shocking,” reports USA Today. It is also “common knowledge” that Lee suffered a stroke in 2014 and is now deaf and mostly blind, according to the residents of her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Speculations about the novel are surprisingly positive, with experts estimating it to be “a huge seller”, mainly due to the first novel’s amazing reviews and the weight that the name “Harper Lee” carries.
In contrast to the reports of her declining health, Lee says she’s “alive and kicking and happy as hell” about responses to Watchman. Sources close to her have confirmed this, adding that she’s exhibiting more healthy behavior within the facility. Go Set A Watchman is expected to be released in July 2015.