Sunday 7 November 2010

Book Review : To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

I was waiting for a flight at the Bangalore Airport and was browsing the bookstore when I came upon the 50th Anniversary edition of Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn't know much about the book except that it was considered an American classic and that a movie was made starring Gregory Peck. I picked it up on impulse, and am I glad I did!

This book won the Pulitzer and the reason is on every page. A story set in the American south and told through the eyes of a little girl, the book deals with very adult topics such as racism, tolerance and the concept of justice in a fashion that drives every point home without making it heavy reading. The narrative unfolds from the viewpoint of Scout, a little girl, and her older brother Jem who come to understand issues related to race when their father defends a black person charged with rape. Their entire view of the episode consists of multiple vignettes that they leads them incrementally to an overall understanding of the situation and the behaviour of the towns folk in terms of attitudes and prejudices, with their upright father providing the moral lightning rod, as it were.

I have never been much of a reader of what would be called "classic" or "award winning" literature but after this and my earlier experience with A House for Mr. Biswas I will be broadening my horizons a bit, that's for sure.

I checked out the Time Top 100 novels  and the only ones I'v read so far are the following.

A House for Mr. Biswas, V S Naipaul
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C S Lewis
Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

A long way to go, then. The only consolation is, I've seen a lot of movies based on the top 100!