Why I Won’t Read Harper Lee’s New Novel

I call foul. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee will be released  on July 14, 2015, and I want to ask, should it be? Should this book be published?

Harper Lee

It was only a few years ago when Harper Lee claimed her agent took advantage of her and duped her into signing over the copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird in 2007  (as of 2012 she again holds the copyright).

Ms. Lee has lived in an assisted facility since 2007, has been losing her hearing, and her vision, and has never once mentioned writing another novel in the more than 50 years that have passed since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. In 2014, this article quotes Ms. Lee as saying (about a memoir), “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood”. In the same article, Lee addresses why she never wrote another novel, stating that, “I already said everything I needed to say…” and compares herself to Boo Radley (the character in To Kill a Mockingbird who is a recluse).

Jonathan Burnham of HarperCollins stated that he has never spoken to Harper Lee directly about her “new” book, and instead has, “communicated with her solely through her lawyer, Ms. Carter, and her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg.” and that has me concerned.

Has Harper Lee given permission for this book to be published? I have serious doubts, and I’m not the only one.

To publish a book by a living author without their direct consent should be questioned. I feel that reading this book is the same as if I walked into Harper Lee’s house, uninvited, and started poking around her closet! This isn’t a lost literary gem – it’s stealing, and invading the privacy of an author who cherishes her privacy.


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