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Salinger, J(erome) D(avid)

(US, 1919– )

J. D. Salinger was born in New York and educated at New York University and Columbia University. He has written both short stories and novels, but is best known for his first novel, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), which has achieved huge success. The novel's narrator, Holden Caulfield, leaves his prep school three days early, wanting to put off the moment when his parents discover he's been kicked out again. Alone, he survives in New York, moving from hotel to theatre, from Radio City Music Hall to Central Park. The novel is trenchantly satirical, extremely funny, and Holden's teenage slang is a remarkably effective tool for laying bare the hypocrisies of New York society. Salinger's other writing is chiefly concerned with the Glass family, and we meet them in Franny and Zooey (1961). Also set in New York, these stories again focus on young people at crisis point, who are starting to question the superficiality of the world they live in. The stories are narrated by Buddy Glass, the writer's self-confessed alter ego. Glass also narrates Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour (1963), stories about his brother Seymour's wedding, which results in a jilting and elopement, and then his suicide. Salinger now lives the life of a recluse, avoiding all publicity.

Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain.


Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Pa-Sc)