‘The details about Salinger are fascinating. . . . What this book is really about, though, is not Salinger, but Rakoff; a coming-of-age tale of a young writer . . . Irresistible.’ Sunday Times
In the winter of 1996, 23-year-old Joanna Rakoff moved to New York City and took a job as assistant to a colourful, old-style literary agent whose wood-panelled office on Forty-Ninth Street was still stuck in the era of the typewriter, the Dictaphone and the photocopier.
One of the Agency’s chief clients was J. D. Salinger, and when Joanna Rakoff was given the task of dealing with the steady stream of fan mail to the famously reclusive novelist she found herself becoming emotionally involved. Instead of sending the usual form letter, she started writing back. In this deliciously funny coming-of-age memoir, set against the backdrop of 1990s New York and the eccentric world of the Agency, she describes what happened next.
‘This is a sepia-toned genre, gently nostalgic and typically set in a New York where skyscrapers are clad in more stone than glass and the men still wear hats and ties . . . You don’t have to be a Salinger fan to fall under Rakoff’s spell; I’m not and I did. Her book is a deft portrait of a vanishing culture (for traditional book publishing was more a culture than a business): quaint and at times wilfully obtuse, but admirably devote to the dignity of the written word. Above all, My Salinger Year is the tale of a young woman accustomed to having her life’s course dictated by others . . . It is the kind of story that is happening all around us, all the time. But there’s no grander setting for it than New York.’ Laura Miller, Guardian
‘My Salinger Year is at heart – and it has lots of heart – an affecting coming-of-age memoir about a naïve, eager literary aspirant . . . Rakoff wisely – and deftly – weaves her Salinger story into a broader, more universal tale about finding one’s bearings during a pivotal transitional year into real adulthood.’ Washington Post
‘A breezy memoir of being a “bright young assistant” in the mid-1990s . . . Salinger himself makes a cameo appearance . . . The “archaic charms” of the Agency are comically offset by its refusal to acknowledge the Internet age.’ New York Times Book Review