Reclusive Author J.D. Salinger Files Suit To Stop “Rip-off” Novel

Lawyers for J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author who wrote the classic American novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” have filed a suit in federal court to stop the publication, sale and distribution of a would-be sequel.

The book, “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” is written by a man who calls himself “J.D. California” and tells the story of Salinger’s hero, Holden Caulfield, as an elderly man.

“The Sequel infringes Salinger’s copyright rights in both his novel and the character Holden Caulfied, who is the narrator and essence of that novel,” said the suit. It was filed in U.S. District Court in New York earlier this week.

California, who is referred to in the lawsuit as “John Doe,” is the son of a Swedish mother and American father, and has been a former gravedigger and triathlete. His take on Salinger’s story refers to the protagonist as “Mr. C.,” an old man who escapes from his nursing home in order to “embark…on a curious journey through the streets of New York.” This plotline mirrors that of the original novel, in which Caulfield, after getting kicked out of prep school, journeys to Manhattan on a picaresque adventure.

The sequel is published by Nicotext, a Swedish company that has published joke books and erotica. In addition to Nicotext, the suit names its offshoot, Windupbird Publishing Ltd., and SCB Distributors as defendants. Salinger’s lawyers will attend a hearing next week, and are expected to ask the judge to freeze publication of the book pending a decision. Additionally, they are asking for sales and distribution of copies of the book already released in Europe and the U.K. to cease.

Salinger is notoriously withdrawn, and has authorized no adaptations of his work, save one 1949 movie based on an early short story. He declined an offer from renowned director Steven Spielberg, who wanted to make a movie of “Catcher in the Rye.”

“There’s no more to Holden Caulfield,” Salinger said in 1980. “Read the book again. It’s all there.”

Salinger did, however, make a reference to the online book-selling giant in the lawsuit, claiming that his novel outsells “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “The DaVinci Code,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or “Of Mice and Men.”

“Catcher in the Rye” was first published in 1951 and has been hailed by many as one of the greatest English-language novels ever written. It is a standard addition to curricula for many schools across the country.

Leave a Reply