Posted on 07/17/2015 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

“I never expected any sort of success with ‘Mockingbird.’… I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement.” —Harper Lee

Even those who live under a rock couldn’t have missed the flood of “Go Set A Watchman” coverage.

Don’t let it overwhelm you, though. We’ve sorted through the first week’s worth of all things Harper Lee and highlighted the best of the bunch.

* * * 

The biggest reaction, of course, came to Atticus Finch’s depiction as a racist. 

Many readers felt betrayed at a hero’s fall from grace, but a few voices expressed acceptance of, if not support for, the revelation.

One Huffington Post contributor argues that the U.S. “deserves” a racist Atticus — seeing it as a glimpse into our nation’s soul — and on NPR, another journalist describes “Watchman” as a more accurate portrayal of the South.

Still others had questions more grounded in reality than fiction.

“What happens now to people and businesses named after Atticus Finch?” wondered The Guardian, while the LA Times added some mild concern for pets who share a name with the once-lionized character.

Some pieces offered alternative ways to interpret “Watchman.”

Claire Fallon at The Huffington Post compares it to fan fiction, while LA Times book critic David L. Ulin observes that “the real story here is how Harper Lee came to a different understanding” of Atticus.

Author Kathy Lette, in the Telegraph, also finds a few other –isms in the coverage of GSAW’s discovery and publication: ageism and sexism.

And as several writers pointed out, including Jesse Kornbluth on the website Head Butler, the “Watchman” bombshell even prompts a new reading of “To Kill A Mockingbird” — wasn’t Atticus’ defense of Tom just a way for Maycomb to justify convicting an innocent man?

The question of how “Mockingbird” and “Watchman” came into existence (and when) also lit up the Internet. The New York Times discusses the former in depth; Bloomberg Business grapples with the latter.

Finally, some quick hits:

  • Quartz literally highlights the overlaps between the two novels, for those who are curious. 

  • The NY Times dusts off book reviews of “To Kill A Mockingbird” from 1960.

  • And the LA Times lists nearly 50 times that “Mockingbird” echoed through pop culture.

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