Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The hottest read of 2015....?

Like many people at the end of last year I was checking out the lists of books due to be published in 2015 like a kid in a sweet shop. New novels from established favourites or rising stars were joined by big debuts from exciting new voices and if you’d asked me what book I was most excited about reading this year just a couple of days ago then my answer would have been a gigantic 900-page epic debut called City on Fire from Garth Risk Hallberg. This is a novel set in the New York of 1977 with a shooting in Central Park at its centre but many characters and storylines spreading out from it – When Scott Rudin buys film rights to a book that doesn’t even have a publisher and then a publisher pays something close to $2m to land it, then that’s the kind of book you have to sit up and take notice of.

But something happened yesterday that nobody was expecting and it sent book lovers from all walks of life into a bit of a frenzy. Seemingly from nowhere and coming 55 years after the publication of her first and only book it was announced that a sequel to Harper Lee’s seminal novel,To Kill A Mockingbird, would be published this year. Titled Go Set A Watchman it was actually written before Mockingbird but is set 20 years after the events with which so many millions of readers are familiar, and follow Scout as she journeys back to her home town of Maycomb to visit her father Atticus Finch. When this first novel was shared with her agent it was the sections that flashed-back to Scout’s youth that enthused her and so Lee was encouraged to write the book that went on to become Mockingbird. 

How many of us who have read, studied, admired, shared and loved that book have also wondered about and hungered for another novel to come from that same pen? Something about the way that book had always stood alone in its achievements meant that I never for a moment considered that we would ever actually see another. Which is part of what makes yesterday’s news so unsettling. How are you supposed to feel about a sequel that is actually more of a literary prequel? (How do you feel about it all?) Should we consider it as a failed first attempt being brought out into the cold light of day or is it another gem that has been buried for all these years, preserved? None of us will know until we get the chance to read it this summer of course but I know I won’t be the only one desperate to find out whatever became of Atticus and Scout Finch. It will be like being reunited with old friends.

This post features as part of a bloggers list of top recommendations for 2015 on Tombola Times. Follow that link to find out what other books people are looking forward to this year. 


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