Katie Couric Reports On Harper Lee's Long Lost Novel
It's been nearly 60 years since Harper Lee's first novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" took the literary world by storm. The story chronicled a small Alabama town that was plagued with racial injustice and segregation during the Depression era.
Upon its release, the novel became an instant sensation — both as a scholarly book and as an iconic Hollywood film — landing Harper Lee a Pulitzer Prize at the age of 34. The novel earned her prestige in the literary world as the author of one of the most beloved pieces of literature.
Now, fans and readers await patiently for Lee's second novel, "Go Set A Watchman," set to release July 14. Bookstores nationwide are flooded with pre-orders and scheduled celebrations to mark its historic debut.
While many delighted in the news of the soon-to-be released work, others have expressed concerns of doubt and unease, given Lee's deteriorating health and past denials of ever releasing another novel.
Katie Couric traveled Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala., to sit down with residents and friends of the novelist to talk about the anticipated book release, and the undisputed effect Harper's novel had on the development of race relations, from past to present.
Known by close friends and family as "Nelle," Lee reportedly wrote "Go Set a Watchman" while residing in New York during her mid-20s. Her editor at the time recommended she go back and tell the narrative from the 6 year old's point of view (also known as Scout in "To Kill A Mockingbird"). Alas, "To Kill A Mockingbird" was born.
Though the two pieces are standalone pieces, they share details of the turbulent story of a trial of a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman, and its aftermath.
Additionally, actress Reese Witherspoon — a fan of Lee's work and native of Alabama — recorded the audiobook for "Go Set A Watchman."
"It's a continuation of a story people hold very closely. The most moving part of recording the audio was definitely getting to say Harper Lee's prose; it's just so lyrical and quintessentially southern," Witherspoon said.
Also noteworthy is the timeliness of the book release, given the current state of race relations in contemporary U.S. society. Undoubtedly, Lee's views on acceptance, tolerance and racial justice, will lend to the discourse on race in America.
At 89 years old, Lee currently resides in the care of an assisted living facility in her hometown after surviving a recent stroke and battling macular degeneration and deafness.
Nonetheless, her profound influence on literature remains impressionable and will likely multiply tenfold with her new novel. As Former New York Times journalist and best-selling author from Alabama, Rick Bragg told Couric: "She took the best of us and the worst of us, and made it clear which one we wanted to be. Who gets to do that in a lifetime?"
Watch the full report here: