In 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird hit bookshelves across the world, and blew everyone away with a classic that has provoked conversation about racism and inequality and empathy. It sold over 40 million copies globally, and became a staple for Literature classes in schools.
Today, as her much-anticipated follow-up Go Set A Watchman is released, the reaction ─ which ranges from shock to horror to disbelief ─ has largely been negative. The book is set 20 years later in the same Alabama town, and protagonist Atticus Finch seems to have embraced a huge shift in attitude over the years.
Once a morality hero who went out on a limb to defend a black villager accused of rape in court, he’s now an ageing bigot and Ku Klux Klan rally supporter who spouts lines like “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”. The backlash is palpable; dismayed fans have set up a #SaveAtticus hashtag on Twitter and are calling for the boycott of the book.
All the more reason to pick up the novel, we say. It’s available now at Books Kinokuniya Singapore, at $41.95.