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Brand of the Day: Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’

Welcome to Brand of the Day, where we pick the brand making headlines and explain what you need to know about why it's in the news.

Today’s Brand of the Day is Harper Lee’s newly released To Kill a Mockingbird sequel Go Set a Watchman.

Set 20 years after the events of Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman revisits Scout, now a successful journalist, and Atticus, who has been embittered as time passed.

Early reviews of the novel, which never progressed far beyond its first draft, have been critical largely due to differences in character and a noted lack of cohesiveness between the new book and its celebrated predecessor.

Here’s more about the brand:

Atticus Finch, portrayed by Gregory Peck in the 1962 movie, takes a darker turn in the novel, markedly more racist despite most famously defending a wrongly accused black man in court at great personal risk in To Kill a Mockingbird.

This first draft of the novel was set aside from when it was written in 1957 with Lee’s editor instead telling her to focus on Scout’s childhood. Thus To Kill a Mockingbird was born and Go Set a Watchman was cast away for over half a century.

In a bid to generate buzz around the launch, the Guardian published the first chapter of the new book exclusively Friday 10 July.

Four days later, the title was released in 70 countries worldwide in hardback, the US alone received an initial two million copy run.

One of Lee’s few requests regarding the publishing of the lost classic was that it was released – more or less – in the form it was found. As a result it has received a light edit and is as a result slightly less polished.

Lee’s literary agent Andrew Nurnberg said: "What is so fine about this book is that it isn’t polished by any editor, but it absolutely comes from the heart."

An elderly Lee, according to Nurnberg rather upbeat about the release, modestly called the novel “a pretty decent effort”.