“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.
“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.