The author of To Kill a Mockingbird — and, so far as I'm concerned, the author of only To Kill a Mockingbird — has died at age 89.

Those who believe the Great American Novel is a singular experience have it wrong; there are many Great American Novels, each a timeless snapshot of a particular moment in American history. Of that tradition of Great American Novels, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the very best, because it delivered the America that we all — Northern or Southern, black or white, woman or man — aspire to create. In one book, Harper Lee gave us the possibility and the promise of America. We could never possibly begin repay her for that tremendous achievement.