The novel, 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye hit the international headlines last week when Salinger, 90, filed a lawsuit against the Swedish founder of Windupbird Publishing, a UK-based publishing house owned by Swedish publishers Nicotext.
Up until now, JD California has been described as a Swedish-American man in his 30s who fell in love with The Catcher in the Rye when he discovered it in “an abandoned cabin in rural Cambodia.” Now with Salinger’s lawsuit in full swing, ‘California’ has decided to clear things up once and for all.
“Fredrik Colting, the publisher, and JD California, we are the same person,” Colting told The Local. “I’m not Swedish American. I’m 100 percent Swedish, born on April 1st, 1976 in Borås, a place outside of Gothenburg.”
A photograph of John David California that appeared in a major British newspaper also contained more than an element of subterfuge.
“That was actually my friend Gustav Roth. He’s an actor, so I said to him: ‘Go act’.”
Colting said although JD California has managed to fool many people, there’s not much to tell about his pseudonym’s persona.
“Since I’m also the publisher, I needed a name. I just created a pseudonym to write 60 Years Later,” Colting said. “He’s made up. Somehow, John David California sounded like JD. I didn’t think about that actually. I just thought it sounded cool. Of course afterwards, I see the resemblance.”
His identity was originally supposed to be kept under wraps but Colting recently changed his mind.
“It was supposed to be a secret. I guess that’s the whole point of having a pseudonym,” Colting explained. “But now after the lawsuit and everything, it’s going to come out anyway.”
Despite all the controversy surrounding the novel, people know very little about the real person behind the book, one who was not named after the state of California.
“My friend Carl and I started our publishing company Nicotext about six years ago, and with Nicotext we publish mostly humour and pop culture books in Sweden and also in the UK and US,” Colting said. “We sell the type of books that you usually see at Urban Outfitters, quirky books. We decided to create the Windupbird Publishing company in order to have a platform for fiction books.”
Colting was skeptical in the beginning about publishing his own work, but he quickly warmed to the idea.
“Well, we’ve never published any novels before, and we had this novel that I wrote,” he said. “We just figured, what the heck. Why not widen our horizons and publish this? It would be good for the publishing company.”
As for finding a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in a rural cabin in Cambodia, Colting admitted it never happened.
“Like everybody, I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager in school,” Colting said. “I liked it then, but I’ve never really been a fan or been crazy about the book or any other books like that.”
With rumours swirling about his novel being a joke or a spoof, Colting emphasized that his novel is not a joke and was written with serious intent.
“It’s not as simple as, ‘Okay this guy writes a sequel and tells what happens in Holden’s life.’ I’ve never said this is the sequel,” Colting explained. “What I wanted to explore is this concept of the relationship between character and creator. After we close the books, what happens to characters after that? Do they just cease to exist? Or do they continue living?”
“So 60 Years Later is kind of a dance between these two dimensions, between the here, our reality, and the there, that which we perceive as a made up world contained inside the covers of the book.”
Colting acknowledged that he has received a lot of negative feedback from people in the U.S. but said it doesn’t bother him, especially since the book is not yet available stateside. However he was surprised by the passionate opinions voiced by many readers of The Catcher in the Rye.
“It’s been interesting. I didn’t realize that The Catcher in the Rye was a subject that touched so many people,” Colting said. “I welcome the attention. It’s interesting because it’s going to pose an interesting discussion.
For now, Colting doesn’t have much time to speculate about how his book will do. He first has to get through the lawsuit, with a pending court date in June. Until then, all publishing of the novel has been put on hold.