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'Go Set a Watchman,' Harper Lee's New Novel, Skyrocketing in Sales

Image: 'Go Set a Watchman,' Harper Lee's New Novel, Skyrocketing in Sales
"Go Set a Watchman," by Harper Lee. (Amazon)

By    |   Monday, 20 Jul 2015 04:03 PM

Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” saw its sales skyrocket over its first week on bookshelves with 1.1 million copies sold in North America and a total of 3.3 million copies in print despite the controversy surrounding Lee’s portrayal of iconic Southern lawyer Atticus Finch.

“Watchman,” which was published by HarperCollins and serves as a sequel of sorts to Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” shattered the publisher’s expectations as faithful “Mockingbird” readers flocked to pre-order and purchase their copies of the book in astounding droves.

“First-week sales of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ have far exceeded our expectations,” said Brian Murray, the president and chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers, in a statement, according to The New York Times. “We are thrilled to see readers responding to this historic new work from an iconic author like Harper Lee.”

Lee’s “Watchman” has proved to be HarperCollins’ fastest-selling book in the company’s entire history, although the 1.1 million figure falls behind Scholastic’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours, according to The Associated Press.

“Watchman” continues the story of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from “Mockingbird” as a young woman who returns to her childhood town to visit her aging father, Atticus. Lee actually wrote “Watchman” before she wrote “Mockingbird,” but at her editor’s shrewd advice, Lee re-worked the flashback scenes in “Watchman” to tell instead the story which became the beloved Southern “Mockingbird” classic that explores racism in Depression-era Alabama.

“We’re seeing demand across the country for this book,” said Mary Amicucci, the vice president of adult trade and children’s books for Barnes & Noble, according to The New York Times. “None of us ever expected in our lifetime to have a second book by Harper Lee.”

The publication of “Watchman” which is currently No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list ahead of “Mockingbird,” which is also in the Top 10, has garnered intense criticism from readers and fans alike for Lee’s shockingly incongruous portrayal of Atticus as an aging racist and segregationist, which seems to contradict her earlier portrayal of Atticus as an honorable and empathetic lawyer defending an unjustly accused black man in the South, according to CNN Money.

Many disillusioned readers argued that “Watchman,” whose manuscript has lain dormant for over 50 years, was never meant to published, and thus is more of a “historical document than a novel,” according to The New York Times.

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Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” saw its sales skyrocket over its first week on bookshelves with 1.1 million copies sold in North America and a total of 3.3 million copies in print despite the controversy surrounding Lee’s portrayal of iconic Southern lawyer Atticus Finch.
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2015-03-20
Monday, 20 Jul 2015 04:03 PM
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