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Swedish publisher blasts Salinger's 'ludicrous' lawsuit

David Landes · 2 Jun 2009, 14:12

Published: 02 Jun 2009 14:12 GMT+02:00

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“We think it’s completely ludicrous,” Fredrik Colting, founder of Nicotext publishing, told The Local.

Entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, the book was written by a Swedish-American author calling himself John David California and is already available in the UK from Windupbird Publishing, a UK-based publishing house owned by Swedish publishers Nicotext.

The book describes the exploits of a 76-year-old "Mr. C" who escapes from a nursing home to venture back into New York City, the city where much of the narrative concerning the main character in Salinger’s book, Holden Caulfield, took place.

And even though the new novel is dedicated to Salinger, who also crops up as a character in the book, the author of the original Catcher saw the new novel featuring Caulfield as an attempt at copyright infringement rather than flattery.

On Monday, his lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York, requesting the judge to stop publication of 60 Years Later in the US, which is scheduled for September.

In the lawsuit, Salinger’s lawyers contend the new book is a “rip-off pure and simple” and have asked for unspecified damages.

"The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticize the original," reads the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Colting admitted that the new novel is “written in Salinger’s style”, but questioned the merits of the lawsuit.

“Words and imagination belong to everyone. You can’t copyright a style. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any books left,” he said.

According to Colting, neither he nor anyone at Nicotext has been served with any legal papers regarding the lawsuit, nor are there any plans to alter 60 Years Later’s planned autumn release in the United States.

Story continues below…

“We’re leaving it in the hands of the lawyers for now,” he said, adding he is doubtful that the 90-year-old author of Catcher will succeed in stopping American audiences from getting their hands on the so-called sequel.

“Salinger wants them to stop the book from being published, but that thing called free speech sort of makes it hard to stop something from being said before it’s been said,” said Colting.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:14 June 2, 2009 by Blazek
Millions of readers must have fierce ambivalence about this. I have read CITR once a year since I was in 6th grade and have a great loyalty to Salinger and his infamously reclusive life. However, as a member of The Pirate Party, I cannot support this attempt to block a derivative work.

I am sure I am not the only CITR fan who feels weird about this new book regardless of the legal questions. CITR is very personal to many readers, and I can't help feel as though 60 Years Later is heresy somehow. Arrogant even. I am torn, but I will probably read it.
16:40 June 2, 2009 by Deema
Regardless of the legal question, I wouldn't dare read this book. I wonder how he dared writing it!....
16:54 June 2, 2009 by eZee.se
Stupid long term copyrights... vote Pirate Party,

get some sense into the equation
12:26 June 3, 2009 by tetsuo_red
The death of vestern culture is on its way. The egomania is almost total. To think you are the ultimate in anything is meglomania. Everybody stand on the shoulders of others. No one is he's own island. Its no such thing as an original idea there is only refined ones. To think you have one is delusion of grandeur.

This is just a symptom of the cancer that is spreading around our world and will end in world dictatorship were individual rights is a thing of the past.
15:14 June 3, 2009 by Blazek
Haha. This from gawker.com sums up the sentiment of Salinger fans perfectly:

"John David California seems like an awful, awful person and it sounds like and awful, awful book, but we hope Salinger doesn't succeed."
20:42 June 8, 2009 by BenBraddock
Sorry, but using someone else's characters without permission is just not on, copyright or not - what happened to artistic integrity? Get your own ideas, I say. Unless he sells the rights, Salinger has the right to decide over his own creations, end of story.
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