Everything you need to know about the five new J.D. Salinger books and film

Author J.D. Salinger during the liberation of Paris in 1944.  Courtesy: The Weinstein Company
Author J.D. Salinger during the liberation of Paris in 1944.
Courtesy: The Weinstein Company

Famed author and recluse J.D. Salinger would approve of Shane Salerno’s hush-hush approach to his upcoming documentary film and book, both named “Salinger.” Salerno, director of the doc and co-author of the book with David Shields, will release the book and the film in September.

Both the film and 698-page book have been shrouded in secrecy, but one jaw-dropping bombshell is already out: Salinger will publish at least five more books by 2020. Two “independent and separate,” anonymous sources informed Salerno and Shields that Salinger left instructions to his estate to publish these books starting in 2015.

These books will include continuations of the characters Holden Caulfield and the dysfunctional Glass family, as well as a novel based on his first marriage to Sylvia Welter, a war-time novella and a religious “manual.” Caulfield is Salinger’s most famous character and the protagonist and teenage antihero in his 1951 novel “Catcher in the Rye.”

Salinger’s last published work, “Hapsworth 16, 1924,” was featured in The New Yorker in 1965. He is said to have left a specific schedule with his estate in 2008 to publish his work posthumously; he died in 2010. Salerno told USA Today that Salinger did not want to publish the books until after he died because he “wasn’t writing for applause or ego.”

Not much is known about the reclusive author, who led a quiet life in Cornish, N.H. “Salinger” aims to separate the man from the myth through interviews with over 150 people who worked with Salinger at The New Yorker, were in contact with him or were greatly inspired by him.

The interviewees range from former lovers, such as Jean Miller, who inspired his short story “For Esmé – With Love and Squalor,” to writer Tom Wolfe to actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. The book and documentary explore the depths of Salinger’s complicated persona, including his complex relationship with his family and his fixation on young women.

The film and accompanying book pieces together the events of Salinger’s life, from early childhood to his time serving in World War II to his literary success and consequent retreat. Salerno spent nine years researching and filming, and gained access to rare photographs and hundreds of letters.

“Salinger,” the film, will be released by the Weinstein Company on Sept. 6 and then re-aired on PBS program “American Masters.” Publisher Simon & Schuster plans to release the book on Sept. 3.


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