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Harper Lee will release her first book since To Kill a Mockingbird this summer

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New novel is essentially a sequel to the 1960 classic, despite being completed first

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Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, announced Tuesday morning that she will publish her second novel this summer. Titled Go Set a Watchmanthe Associated Press reports that the book will be released in July, with publisher HarperCollins planning a first printing of 2 million copies.

In the announcement, Lee states that the new novel is essentially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, despite being completed first. "It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman," Lee said in the statement given to Harper, "and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) from the point of view of the young Scout." The original manuscript for Go Set a Watchman had been lost until the author's lawyer Tonja Carter rediscovered it and persuaded Lee to have it published.

Scout returns to Maycomb after 20 years

Lee's new novel will follow Jean Louise "Scout" Finch in the mid-1950s, 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird and at a moment when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. According to the publisher's announcement, "She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood."

The 88-year-old Lee's original novel is universally considered a landmark in modern American fiction, so a sequel is huge news for readers. And it performs incredibly well to this day, selling 750,000 copies a year. The author, for her part, has stayed mostly silent since the novel's publication 55 years ago, coming out of seclusion to mark the book's 50th anniversary in 2010.

Update 11:45AM ET: Amazon now has a pre-order page for the novel, listing it at $26.59.