The long wait for the new book from "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee is almost over with tomorrow's release of the previously lost novel "Go Set a Watchman."
To mark the occasion, Barnes & Noble bookstores across the city are holding "To Kill a Mockingbird" read-a-thons Monday. The B&N in Union Square monday night will also celebrate Lee with author Wally Lamb and actress Leslie Uggams in conversation with Bill Goldstein, founding editor of The New York Times books site. And the B&N on the Upper West Side will screen the "To Kill a Mockingbird" film adaptation at 10 a.m. Monday. Check bn.com for the full schedule.
In other festivities, actress Mary Badham, who played the role of Scout in the "To Kill a Mockingbird" film, will be reading from both of the novels at the 92nd Street Y tomorrow. Badham's participation seems fitting, given that the plot of "Go Set a Watchman" follows Scout as an adult.
Lee, 89, is not scheduled to appear at any events to help promote her new book. Not that it needs the publicity. "Go Set a Watchman" is the most preordered book on Amazon.com since J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in 2007.
Amazon did not provide figures for either book, but publisher Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, said it had ordered an initial U.S. print run of 2 million for "Watchman."
Early reviews of "Go Set a Watchman," set 20 years after Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, reveal that Atticus Finch attends a Ku Klux Klan meeting and opposes desegregation efforts.
This portrayal of Finch, one of the most beloved figures in literature, sharply contrasts with the small-town Alabama lawyer who defends a black man charged with raping a white woman in "Mockingbird."
"Go Set a Watchman," set in the mid-1950s, finds Finch in possession of a racist pamphlet called "The Black Plague" and sees him scolding his adult daughter Scout for her progressive views on equality, according to New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal reviewers, who received advance copies. (With Reuters)