Today we lost one of the most beloved American authors of the twentieth century, J.D. Salinger. If you ask many people of my generation what their favorite books is, there’s about a one-in-four chance they will answer with Salinger’s most famous book, Catcher in the Rye. (If you’re curious what I think the other three likely responses are, that would be The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harry Potter.)
You may wonder why a man who wrote such a widely popular book and lived to be 91 published only two novels and some short stories and stopped publishing altogether in 1965. Simply put, Salinger had become something of a recluse, avoiding media attention and ceasing any contact with the outside world. He appeared in the news for the first time in decades late last year, when he sued a man going by the name “J.D. California” for attempting to publish a “sequel” to Catcher in the Rye. That sequel was banned.
Many people believe that Salinger has a batch of unpublished novels stacked up in his house. A real sequel to Catcher in the Rye has been a long time in coming. The question is whether his family will release this material now. They stand a lot to gain; after all, Catcher in the Rye is still selling almost 60 years after publication. Something else that might come out of this: movie rights. Studios have tried to buy the movie rights to Catcher for years, but Salinger has been unwilling to sell. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a movie in the works in the very near future.
Whatever happens, his book has certainly made an impression on millions of people and he’s left his mark on American literature. RIP J.D.