Harper Lee’s new book gets readers -- under lock and key

International publishers are eager to snap up author Harper Lee's second novel, "Go Set A Watchman."
International publishers are eager to snap up author Harper Lee’s second novel, “Go Set A Watchman.”
(Rob Carr / AP)

Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated books in recent literary history, and its contents have been closely guarded ever since its existence was announced in February. The security around the book is so tight that foreign publishers have had to read the manuscript in the closely guarded London offices of Lee’s literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg, reports the Guardian.

That hasn’t stopped publishers from snapping up the rights to the “To Kill a Mockingbird” sequel, though. Nurnberg on Tuesday announced that the book has been sold in 25 countries, “from Korea to Montenegro, China, Bulgaria and Turkey” with “many, many more” coming.

The Guardian cites an interview Nurnberg gave to Publishers Weekly in February in which the agent said he didn’t want to “sell this book blind” -- “Not least because there has been a fair amount of nonsense in the press by a few people who seem determined to question the motivation of selling it, and to belittle its literary merits, without having read a single word.”


Nurnberg seems to be referring to allegations that Lee, who is 88 and resides in an Alabama assisted living facility, was exploited and manipulated into releasing her second novel. Earlier this month, the state of Alabama closed an investigation of claims of elder abuse against Lee, concluding that “no evidence of abuse or neglect had been found.”

“Go Set a Watchman” revisits Scout and Atticus Finch, two of the iconic characters from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” 20 years after events in the first book took place. The book will be published in America by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, on July 14.