Injunction Bans Unauthorized Salinger Sequel

Adrian Versteegh

A federal judge in New York City last week issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. publication of what attorneys for J. D. Salinger are calling an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye. In an order issued on Wednesday afternoon, judge Deborah A. Batts said that Fredrik Colting’s 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye fails to meet standards for fair use and usurps derivative rights to the 1951 original.

During oral arguments last month, Colting—who published 60 Years in Sweden and the U.K. under the pseudonym J. D. California—said his book was intended as a work of critical commentary about Salinger and the reclusive author’s iconic character, Holden Caulfield. In Wednesday’s decision, Judge Batts dismissed his claims as “post-hoc rationalizations,” noting that 60 Years was originally billed on its jacket as a “sequel.” Her thirty-seven page ruling lays out detailed comparisons of the two books. “In both novels,” Batts writes, “the protagonist nearly has sex but ultimately decides not to, finds himself drawn to Central Park, has a huge breakfast, which is unusual for him, ponders where the ducks go during the winter when the ice freezes, stands on a hill next to a cannon watching a sporting competition, and gets punched in the shoulder by [prep school roommate] Stradlater.”

Colting’s attorney, Edward Rosenthal, says he plans to appeal the ruling. “We are very disappointed that the judge chose to ban Mr. Colting's book,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday evening. The decision, he continued, means that “members of the public are deprived of the chance to read the book and decide for themselves whether it adds to their understanding of Salinger and his work.”