New book set for reprint
Watchman novel sets sales record for HarperCollins
Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set A Watchman has sold more than 1.1 million copies in North America in its first week, making it the fastest selling book in the history of publisher HarperCollins.
The novel was released last Tuesday, 55 years after the author’s only other published workthe Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird.
It too was written in the 1950s but the story is set some 20 years later. It features the prominent character Scout as an adult woman on her journey to visit her father, a lawyer who defended a black man facing charges of raping a white woman. Like Lee’s first book, the story takes place against a backdrop of racism and civil rights tensions.
Watchman has caused a sensation because of its depiction of lawyer Atticus Finch as a racist and bigot, which was thought likely to deter potential readers who recall the character from the original as an idealist who put his principles on the line to defend the black man.
According to Reuters, HarperCollins, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has a North American print run for Watchman of more than 3.3 million. It said the publisher did not give sales figures or print runs for the rest of the world.
Lee, now 89, withdrew from public life shortly after the success of Mockingbird and the 1962 Oscar-winning film version starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.