This week’s release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman has been greeted with no small amount of anticipation and controversy. First there were concerns about the circumstances of the novel’s release, which was announced a mere three months after the death of Lee’s sister Alice, who had been her lawyer and caretaker. Lee is 89 and in poor health following a stroke, and publishers admit that all discussion has taken place through her current lawyer, Tonja Carter.
Then the reviews began to trickle out, and readers have been surprised to find a different portrayal of Atticus Finch, the iconic and beloved character who fought on behalf of Tom Robinson. Watchman was an early take on the story of the Finch family and the town of Maycomb, told from the perspective of an adult Scout. It was later revised to become the novel we now know. In Watchman, Atticus Finch is an elderly, bigoted man who attends a KKK rally and bears little resemblance to the social justice figure readers have admired for decades. The last few weeks have seen spirited debates as to whether or not this should tarnish the original novel’s legacy, and if it is possible given the setting and time that Atticus could have had these two very different, though genuine, sides to his character.
As Sarah has already noted, the waiting list for Go Set a Watchman is a long one. While you wait for your name to come up, here is a list of titles that you may enjoy. Several of them will be available in the New Fiction room. For titles not found there, please visit the reference desk for assistance. Many of these are coming of age tales set against similarly racially-charged backdrops, while some are stories about crimes that divide towns.
Dollbaby — Laura Lane McNeal
Hope Mills — Constance Pierce
Peace Like a River — Leif Enger
The Help — Kathryn Stockett
Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands — Susan Carol McCarthy
Whistling Past the Graveyard — Susan Crandall
I’ll Take You There: A Novel — Joyce Carol Oates
A Time to Kill — John Grisham
The Burying Field — Kenneth Abel
The Air Between Us — Debra Johnson
To Kill a Mockingbird
Race in America:
The Fire Next Time — James Baldwin
The Education of Booker T. Washington — Michael Rudolph West
Mr. and Mrs. Prince : How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of slavery and Into Legend — Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Martin & Malcolm & America : A Dream or a Nightmare — James H. Cone.
A Dreadful Deceit : The Myth of Race From the Colonial Era to Obama’s America — Jacqueline Jones.
News For All the People : the Epic Story of Race and the American Media — Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres