I don’t remember the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird or the second. But I remember the third time. Somewhere in the middle, Atticus Finch and his children Jem and Scout and the entire universe of Maycomb, Alabama became mine, in the weird sense that readers get, about their favourite books. This week, Penguin Random House announced the publication of a “sequel” to “To Kill a Mockingbird”, setting the internet afire and sending fans of all ages and all over the world to a sense of frenzy.
“Go Set a Watchman”, the sequel, was in fact written before To Kill a Mockingbird and is about the life of Scout, one of the child-protagonists of Mockingbird, as an adult. In an interview, Harper Lee claimed that this draft had flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, which appealed to the editor so much that she was asked to write a full-length novel about it and that was how Mockingbird was born. The draft of Go Set a Watchman was believed to be lost and was only found last year by Lee’s lawyer Tonja Carter.
Go Set a Watchman describes the return of Scout Finch to Maycomb to visit her father Atticus and it is about her trying to understand social issues in and around Maycomb- her birthplace and everything she and her father believe about society, claims the publisher’s statement.
Of course I’m scared. I’m terrified. Really. We all know how sequels can turn out. And this one will get way too much attention and hype. It’ll never be Mockingbird and if it’s even 1% off, no one in the world will forgive Harper Lee. And she’s old and she’s been away from the limelight for years. I don’t know what the motives are for this book or why she has agreed to publish it, but I do hope that it lives up to all the expectations and that it lives up to Scout, and Jem and Atticus.
Being really excited about this book (in spite of all rational sense telling me to not be excited about it), I started making a list of all the books I’ve read that need a sequel. Here’s just some of them. It’s a personal list, and of course you may not agree with all of it- we hope you share with us what books you want too on the list!
1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling:
I don’t mean short stories, I don’t mean a Daily Prophet article. I mean a full-length, proper novel(s) giving a vivid description of the Marauder era. And of what happens in the 19 years before the epilogue. And how James and Al and Lily and Teddy turn out. Why? Because.
2. The Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth:
Yes, I know there’s been a sequel in the offing. It needs to be released. Now. I want to know what kind of a life Lata had and what kind of a grandmother she turns out to be. The Suitable Girl, already in the news, for all the wrong reasons needs to be read. It’s one of those stories that never get old, that have no ending, because it is the story of all of us.
3. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding:
It is set on a deserted island occupied by a group of young boys, after a plane crash, the book explores how society affects an individual and the simultaneous existence of good and evil in all of us. The book comes very close to perfection, and I, like a million other people, want to know exactly what happens to Ralph and Jack once they come back to society and how they cope with all the horrors of the past.
4. Matilda by Roald Dahl:
Once Matilda leaves her parents and comes to live with Miss Honey, we are led to believe that she gets her ‘happily ever after’ and her talent, being finally accepted helps her become successful and free. Does this actually happen? Are there really no struggles in Matilda’s life? What happens to her parents? Don’t you want to know?
5. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin:
Ok, I know this is a bit of cheating because yes, more books are coming soon. But I need them to come fast! (*hint, George R. R. Martin, hint*)
If you have any suggestions, let us know. And meanwhile, let’s be excited about the next Harper Lee novel. Because nothing can make Atticus less awesome.
By Shreemayee Das