After years (nay, decades) of radio silence, Harper Lee has taken over the literary scene this week, as it has been announced that the author, known for her highly popular and hugely influential work for schoolchildren and adults the world over – To Kill a Mockingbird – has a new book on the way. Go Set a Watchman is the newly discovered work by the now 88-year-old Lee, written in the 1950s before her classic Pulitzer Prize-winning Mockingbird.
— Penguin Books UK (@PenguinUKBooks) February 5, 2015
Rejected by publishers the first time round, the manuscript (thought to be lost) is now receiving a highly publicised second chance to reach readers. What’s more, Watchman is actually a sequel to her first published novel, so we will get to revisit some familiar characters, including heroine Scout, now twenty years older. Sure to become this year’s bestseller (there’s no point even arguing this, people are going to flock to shelves for it!), it will be available in the UK, published by Penguin, and U.S. in July. However, there are concerns being vocalised about the reasons behind its release, and whether or not Harper Lee herself, who suffered a stroke in 2007 and has led a reclusive, anonymous life since her last interview in the 1960s, has had any control over the decision to publish it.
We’ve also been privy to some Harry Potter reveals this week courtesy of J. K. Rowling on Twitter. Fans of the book series prompted the author with some questions that had been circulating among Potter enthusiasts for years, but had yet to be officially answered. But now we know the following: why did the horcrux inside Harry not get destroyed when he was bitten by the basilisk? Because Harry had to actually die for the horcrux to be destroyed; where did Fluffy the three-headed dog go? Greece apparently, on Dumbledore’s orders; and finally, why is Sirius Black’s family home situated in a Muggle housing estate? Because one of the Black ancestors wanted the house so badly he ‘persuaded’ its muggle residents to leave.
Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, will be releasing a new novel this summer after a break of thirteen years. The Czech writer’s new work is titled The Festival of Insignificance and has already been published elsewhere in Europe (way back in 2013 in Italy).
Out of the Berlin Film Festival, a sneak peek has been released for the Ian McKellen film Mr Holmes, about an aging Sherlock Holmes working to solve a final mystery before his health deteriorates completely. This adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle character is based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind (2005) by Mitch Cullin. It looks splendid, and the aged-up look of McKellen (the 75 year old plays the sleuth in his nineties) is remarkable.
In more book to film news, an image has been released for the Ben Wheatley directed and Tom Hiddleston starring High Rise, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s novel of the same name about the chaos that overwhelms an ultra-luxurious, high-tech London apartment block in the 1970s.
And if all the posters and promotional material haven’t managed to reach you yet, the Fifty Shades of Grey film is finally hitting cinema screens this coming weekend (so it fits snugly into the Valentine’s Day spirit).