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Books  >>  Biography

Joanna Rakoff

My Salinger Year

Joanna Rakoff My Salinger Year
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Biographical note:

JOANNA RAKOFF is the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which won the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers and the Elle Readers' Prize, and was a New York Times Editors' Pick and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe Washington Post Book WorldThe Boston GlobeVogueTime Out New YorkO: The Oprah Magazine, and numerous other publications. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris ReviewWestern Humanities ReviewKenyon Review, and other journals. She has degrees from Columbia University; University College, London; and Oberlin College and currently lives in New York.

Country of final manufacture:

US

Main description:

Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistible: a memoir about literary New York in the late '90s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself swept into one of the last great stories and entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At 23, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent of J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-paneled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still prevail and old-time agents doze at their desks in the late afternoon, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic talent, Joanna is tasked with responding to Salinger's voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the deeply candid letters from his fans, she finds herself abandoning the agency's form letter and writing her own responses. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger's, on her own dangerous and wonderful terms.

Joanna Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman moving through a heady and much-longed for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. My Salinger Year is a graceful, deeply moving literary fairytale and the coming-of-age story of a talented young writer.

Review quote:

Advance Praise for Joanna Smith Rakoff’s My Salinger Year
 
“This is an impossibly excellent read—a glowingly entertaining, miss-your-subway-stop engrossing, note-perfect piece of storytelling. Joanna Smith Rakoff’s My Salinger Year is ostensibly about finding your way as a young adult and what it really means to be on your own for the first time; but it’s really about Manhattan at the brink of the internet age, the disappointments of love, the joys of reading, the perils of ambition, phonies (of course it’s about phonies!), what books meant to our culture in the twentieth century and what they continue to mean in the new one. Really now, who doesn't want to find out what it’s like to have cranky old Jerry Salinger screaming at you first thing, before you’ve even had your morning coffee?”
—Charles Bock, author of New York Times bestseller, Beautiful Children


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