In what may be the biggest literary news of the 21st century so far, beloved one-hit wonder Harper Lee announced today that she will publish a second novel this summer, starring Scout Finch 20 years later. Lee's first novel, of course, has been a classroom staple for generations and inspired one of the greatest book-to-film adaptations of all-time (hello, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch).
According to a press release from her publisher, Lee actually wrote her second book, Go Set A Watchman, before To Kill a Mockingbird, but her editor was so taken by Scout's fictional flashbacks that she convinced Lee to write an entirely different book (the one that became a best-selling Pulitzer Prize winner). About her second novel, Lee says, "I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. [...] I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."
Of course, nothing is ever that simple. As Madeleine Davies points out at Jezebel, Lee's sister, Alice, who protected the author's estate, passed away last year. Now, who's to say if the publishers and public actually have Lee's best interest and wishes in mind and if the author—at 88 years old and in reported poor health—actually wants to publish this book she seems, from her statement, barely to remember.
It's complicated, much-mined territory, but we sure hope Lee is as thrilled as we are about the new publication because we can't wait to re-visit Maycomb and the Finches.