J. D. Salinger is taking legal action against the writer of an alleged sequel to The Catcher in the Rye. Lawyers for the ninety-year-old author, who lives a quiet life away from the media in rural New Hampshire, have mounted a lawsuit against author J. D. California, whose novel 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye they say violates Salinger’s exclusive rights to the Holden Caulfield character and any follow-up to the 1951 novel.
"The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticize the original," Salinger's lawyers said of 60 Years Later, Courthouse News Service reported. "It is a rip-off, pure and simple."
The attorneys' complaint, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, goes on to describe the similarities between the plot of 60 Years Later and that of the original, with the protagonist escaping from an institution (a nursing home rather than the prep school of the original) and idling in New York City for a number of days "encountering many of the same people, visiting many of the same settings, and ruminating in the same—or, in the case of the sequel, an imitative—voice."
Salinger, who was described by his lawyers to be "fiercely protective of his intellectual property," has not authorized the creation of any works derived from The Catcher in the Rye, including adaptations for film and television.
The lawsuit seeks to stop California, referred to as John Doe in court papers, from publishing the sequel, and also cites the book's publishers: Windupbird Publishing in Great Britain, Nicotext in Sweden, and SCB Distributors in the United States. The book is scheduled for publication in Great Britain this summer, according to the Guardian, and in the United States in the fall.