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Celebration: 50 Years of To Kill A Mockingbird September 6, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in bestsellers, classics, commercial fiction, fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, multi-cultural fiction, weekly topics.

Topic of the Week: September 6-10, 2010

Some novels stay with you forever. You remember with clarity when and where you read it, how the characters drew you into their lives and carried you through pages of adventure, crisis, awakening or romance. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of those books.

Published in July 1960, the book met with mixed reviews. The Atlantic Monthly‘s reviewer called it, “sugar-water served with humor. . . .” while Time magazine’s reviewer wrote, “Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers.” The novel went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 as well as dozens of other honors through the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997.

This week in #litchat we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of this seminal book in conjunction with the #tkam hashtag promoted by HarperCollins Publishers. We’ll start on Monday with open topic moderated by #litchat founder Carolyn Burns Bass, then Wednesday we’ll hear from author Virginia DeBerry, followed by Friday discussion led by author Kathryn Magendie. We encourage participants to include both the #litchat and #tkam hashtag in their comments.

Virginia DeBerry

Virginia DeBerry, along with her writing partner Donna Grant, have written five novels together. A former high school English teacher from Buffalo, New York, DeBerry attended Fisk University and is a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo. The duo’s first novel, Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made, was a critical success, an Essence Bestseller, and won the Merit Award for Fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, as well as the 1998 Book of the Year Award from the Blackboard Bestseller List/African American Booksellers Conference-Book Expo America. Their most recent novel, Uptown, was released by Touchstone in March of this year.

Kathryn Magendie

Kathryn Magendie

Kathryn Magendie writes with a southern voice inspired by the hills and hollows of the mountains she calls home. Her first novel Tender Graces was released by Belle Bridge in April 2009, followed in March of this year with Secret Graces, a second in a planned trilogy of books called the Graces Saga. A separate title called Sweetie is set for release this fall. Magendie is a writer, editor, and Co-Editor/Publisher of The Rose & Thorn e-zine. Her short stories, essays, photography, and poetry have been published in both online and print publications.

Carolyn Burns Bass

A longtime journalist, Carolyn Burns Bass started #litchat in January 2009. She has written  numerous personality profiles; music and book reviews; personal essays; food, travel and lifestyle features in a variety of consumer and trade publications. She is currently completing a novel, The Sword Swallower’s Daughter.

Recognizing how many LitChat followers are unable to participate in the scheduled one-hour chats on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and how expressing a multi-layered point in Twitter’s 140 characters, we invite you to post your To Kill A Mockingbird tributes, critiques and URLs about this great American novel in the comments below.

Follow Virginia DeBerry on Twitter: @deberryandgrant

Follow Kathryn Magendie on Twitter: @katmagendie

Follow Carolyn Burns Bass on Twitter: @CarolyBurnsBass

Read the chatscript from this week’s #litchat here.



1. Marika Cobbold - September 6, 2010

The novel I return to time and time again, the novel I wish I had written, the novel everyone should read.

2. IanB - September 6, 2010

One of only a few books I was forced to read at school that I’ve returned to as an adult.

3. Marisa Birns - September 6, 2010

A book I loved from the first page to the last. Still reread it as an adult.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
–Atticus Finch

Just wonderful.

4. angie - September 6, 2010

Really enjoyed the #tkam #litchat session. Can’t wait for more!

5. Meg Waite Clayton - September 6, 2010

One of my two stranded-on-an-island books, along with George Eliot’s Middlemarch. “My Summer with Scout Finch” essay about it ran as a featured Opinion on AOL News on the 50th Anniversary of publication: http://bit.ly/drjtYZ

6. Veronica Brooks-Sigler - September 6, 2010

It’s one of my favorites–if it weren’t on someone else’s staff pick shelf, it would be on mine. I have read it numerous times with students and on my own. I think often about Atticus being the same on the street as he was in his house, that he didn’t put on one face for the public and another for his family.

7. Debra Marrs - September 7, 2010

The fact that we’re celebrating a 50-year anniversary is testimony to the social and iconic relevance in Harper Lee’s message. It’s such a model for rich character development and setting detail. I often wonder where author Lee learned her craft, and so wish she could be my personal teacher too. Looking forward to the stellar lineup of discussions and guests this week in #litchat.

8. @Elizabeth Karr - September 8, 2010

World would be a better place if everbody had a little Scout in them. Find your inner Scout. Or Atticus Two wonderful role models

9. Michelle Ryan - September 8, 2010

I grew up just a few hours south of TKAM’s setting in Monroeville, Alabama. Maybe that’s why I had a greater appreciation for it even as a child because it was close to home. I highly recommend the two-act play put on in Monroeville every spring. Walking into the courtroom (on which the movie set was based) for the second act is quite amazing. And I agree with Elizabeth. Find your inner Scout or Atticus. The world would be much better!

10. Tina McElroy Ansa - September 10, 2010

As a “Scout” of GA, I’m reminded that that child discovering the hard and soft places of the world continues to live within us all. Isn’t it a marvel that literature reminds of that. My hope is that other works of lit from various viewpoints are given the opportunity to do that for lil’ Scouts growing up now.
Be blessed, Harper Lee.

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