New Harper Lee novel presents an unsaintly Atticus Finch

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NEW YORK — Harper Lee’s unexpected new novel offers an unexpected and startling take on an American literary saint, Atticus Finch.

“Go Set a Watchman” is set in the 1950s, 20 years after Lee’s celebrated “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It finds Atticus hostile to the growing civil rights movement. In one particularly dramatic encounter with his now-adult daughter, Scout, the Alabama lawyer who famously defended a black man in “Mockingbird” condemns the NAACP as opportunists and troublemakers and labels blacks as too “backward” to “share fully in the responsibilities of citizenship.”

“Watchman” was written before “Mockingbird” and is only Lee’s second book. It will be published Tuesday. The Associated Press purchased an early copy.