With Harper Lee's new novel Go Set a Watchman on sale today, Publishers Weekly asked a collection of authors for their thoughts on her beloved debut, and Pulitzer Prize winner, To Kill a Mockingbird. They said the novel affected everything from their ideas about race and humanity to their choice of profession.

"I was born in Monroeville, Ala., and my parents' best friends lived two doors down from the Lees. I read the book in their porch swing when I was 10. Miss Wandie would come out and say, 'See that stump? That's the tree where Boo left the presents for Scout and Jem.' That experience made me aware that actual people wrote the books I loved...and made me want to be one of them. "—Mark Childress, author of Georgia Bottoms (Little, Brown, 2011)

"My generation of readers became hooked on becoming lawyers, especially trial lawyers, by reading Clarence Darrow for the Defense by Irving Stone, Clarence Darrow’s biography. Recent generations came under the same influence by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The book and movie with Gregory Peck led to a generation of lawyers, few of whom will practice like Atticus Finch, alas."—Ronald Goldfarb, whose debut novel, Law, Love & Life (Ankerwycke, March) was published under his pseudonym, R.L. Sommer

"[To Kill a Mockingbird] is a book that has impacted my own personal and writing life. I first read "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 1960, the year of its publication, and have revisited it in book and film several times since. I believe the novel played as significant a role in altering America's thinking about the evils of racism as did actual horrific acts of lynching, discrimination, and daily indignities visited on people of color, because the characters in this fiction sear our consciousness, and touch our souls beyond the purview of veritable facts."—Michael Fedo, author of The Lynchings in Duluth (1979, and reissued in 2008 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press)

"I read To Kill A Mockingbird aloud to each of my daughters the year that she turns 10 because it is a seminal book, a book about identity and poverty and morality, about family and loss, about violence and injustice, about what it means to be a person of character. Simply put, To Kill a Mockingbird is a book about the real world. And every tough, young female character written in the past 50 years has in some way been influenced by Scout, one of the best narrators in literary history."—Peter Brown Hoffmeister, author of the forthcoming This Is The Part Where You Laugh (Knopf, 2016)

"Like so many lawyers and readers, I have a special place in my heart for To Kill a Mockingbird. My well-worn purple paperback reflects how often I have turned to Mockingbird over the years. It was, as both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on justice, a major inspiration for me when I wrote my own novel about the legal system."—David Lat, author of Supreme Ambitions (Ankerwycke. 2014)

"When I first met them, Scout and Jem and Dill broke my heart with the clarity and honesty of their humanity. They continue to break it with each reunion. The children of To Kill a Mockingbird are the gold standard by which subsequent novelists have had to measure their portrayal of the young."—Faith Sullivan, author of The Cape Ann (Crown, 1988) and the forthcoming Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse (Milkweed Editions)

"I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time when I was 12 years old. I checked it off the Wise County Bookmobile in Big Stone Gap, Va. I grew up in a small southern town, so to read a novel set in a similar place was a revelation. I loved Scout—she hated prissy clothes, she was funny, wise and had common sense. The relationship Scout had with her father was so beautiful, to this day, it makes me cry. Atticus Finch was an example of a good man taking an extraordinary stand on an ordinary day against a lie- and I guess what sticks with me is the beauty of the storytelling, the deeply decent American values that come to the fore when they are tested, and Harper Lee's understanding of the grave wound of racism in America. She articulates the despair of the hardworking poor and disenfranchised with a keen eye and an open heart. It's a novel that wins me every time I read it, and what a thrill when my 12-year-old daughter had the same experience when she read it."—Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap (Random House, 2000)

"Scout is the quintessential American child. She matures by learning the promise and the fault lines within the American dream. Her father doesn't shield her from injustice and this "gift" allows her to develop a moral and ethical stance. She matures through empathy and by understanding the complexities of humanity. Scout is the American citizen writ large."—Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Sugar (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013)

“When I was growing up in the South, girls were—and often are today, I think—raised to fit into some sort of lady-like mold where they are not supposed to express feelings and they are not supposed to stand up for things. So the role that Scout has played in all these girls' minds as they have read To Kill a Mockingbird is very important. Here's Scout who believes in things, who is funny and curious and passionate----a tomboy. I think Scout has done more for southern womanhood than any other character in literature. She has turned girls into the kind of women we want.”—Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill (Algonquin, 2006)

"I didn't read To Kill a Mockingbird until I was just out of college, so I came at it with more of an adult sensibility. The characters made it stand out to me that first read. They were all so multi-dimensional and real. Nothing felt forced or "writerly." What stood out on a second read, though, was the exploration of racism. That's what sticks with me most. Lee told the truth, and it's a truth that persists today. I'd argue that the racism she explores hasn't faded much today, it's just morphed, which makes the novel still incredibly relevant."—Matt de la Peña, author of The Living (Delacorte, 2013)

"Harper Lee gave us the single most important sentence of American literature. From Mark Twain to Don DeLillo, Eudora Welty to Edwidge Danticat, the best of the American canon is contained within. In a year that has seen two major conflicts between American police and American people we would all be wise to tack Ms. Lee's words above our TV's and tablets: 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--.'"—Sunil Yapa, author of the forthcoming Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Lee Boudreaux Books, 2016)

To Kill a Mockingbird made a huge impression on me, as a person but also when it came time to create my own main character. While Armand Gamache is his own man, he has a number of literary godparents—including ‎that man of quiet integrity and courage, Atticus Finch.”—Louise Penny, author of the forthcoming The Nature of the Beast (Minotaur, Aug.)

"Like most of my generation, I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and it made a deep and lasting impression on me. I still re-read it every few years. My old paperback copy is a worn and dilapidated as Boo Radley's front porch. With every reading, I discover something new, something that changes the way I see the world. It is as relevant today as the day it was written."—Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale (St. Martin's Press, Feb.)

"I first read To Kill a Mockingbird at age 14 and it remains one of my most memorable reading experiences. Because I am now a father, I find the relationship between Atticus and Scout particularly moving. The final scene of Atticus watching all night over Jem brought tears to my eyes at 14, and it does so again at 61. One aspect of the novel that is sometimes underappreciated is its humanization of the mentally challenged at a time when such people were ridiculed, feared, and hidden away. It is a book written for the heart and should be read that way."—Ron Rash, author of Serena (2008) and the forthcoming Above the Waterfall (Ecco, Sept.)

"The real miracle of To Kill a Mockingbird is that I was even allowed to read it in my home state of Mississippi. That’s the debt us Southern writers owe Harper Lee. She showed many of us how to write about race in a way that is lovingly and subversively transformational instead of harsh and divisive. Sometimes I wonder if Lee hadn’t overheard Madeleine L’Engle when she suggested that if the book you are writing is too hard for adults, then write it for children. Lee’s story comes off as deceptively, deliciously simple, but it is a Trojan horse within whose center hides the means to throw open wide the moral gates of a generation. I love her for that."— Jonathan Odell, author of Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League (Maiden Lane Press, Feb.)

"Lee's voice was like a balm to me in my early years of reading To Kill a Mockingbird. In it, and in the experience of her many characters, I felt like I was once again a part of the south of my childhood. As heartbreaking a story as this was, Lee filtered so much hope into it so it was at once a social commentary, a call to arms, and a story about the importance of family. More than anything, I think as a young person, I wanted to grow up to be Harper Lee—to have her southern patience for letting the story drift onto the page and her gift for masking the urgency of the story deep inside the storytelling itself."—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin/Paulsen, 2014)

"Talk about staying power: I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird in at least 20 years, and still I can recall nearly every story beat vividly. I can still hear Scout's voice like she's sitting next to me, still feel the sultry summer stillness of Maycomb County giving way to the stifling heat of the courtroom, still remember Boo Radley lurking in the shadows, still see that mad dog hobbling down the middle of the street. And all these years later, I'm still stirred by the nobility of Atticus Finch. I guess that's pretty much the definition of unforgettable. "—Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (Algonquin, 2012) and the forthcoming This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! (Algonquin, Sept.)

"[The novel] shows me something new at each stage of my life. Reading it in school, I remember wishing that my dad was more like Scout’s. Reading it now, I can see Atticus’ weaknesses as well as his strengths. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover something different when I read it again in 30 years. And it becomes more timely as the decades pass, which is partly a sad commentary on our society, and partly a tribute to Lee’s skill.”—Vanessa Lafaye, author of Under a Dark Summer Sky (Sourcebooks, Jan.)

"America was not, and never has been, a nation of all men created equal. To the contrary, America broke its founding promise in the moment of its making. It was a decision that would follow America down through all its generations till now. It was an act of courage for Scout, Atticus and Lee herself to see what was there and to say it—in 1960, four years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, three years before Martin Luther King had his Dream. But that courage seems even more remarkable, resonant, and relevant, viewed from a vantage point of 55 years on, when that broken promise still haunts the nation founded upon it."—Leonard Pitts Jr., newspaper columnist and author of the forthcoming Grant Park (Agate Bolden, Oct.)

"Like Scout, I grew up without a mother and was raised by a hard-working single father. My brothers and I sought mischief wherever we could find it in our small town. We had live-in’s as captivating as Calpurnia and our own Boo Radley who resided in the pink house opposite the pasture. Parallels are abundant and organic in great literature. Lee struck a literary chord with readers in To Kill a Mockingbird; her words continue to resonate with me."—Melissa Cistaro, author of Pieces of My Mother (Sourcebooks, May) and bookseller/event host at Book Passage