Author(s): Joanna Smith Rakoff
At twenty-three, 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 for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger's voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency's decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger's devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back...Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, 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. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.
The Devil Wears Prada with a whiff of Mad Men and Girls - a charming coming-of-age memoir about a young woman who lands a job assisting J.D. Salinger's literary agent in the 1990s
Here is the story of a reader becoming a writer, of a young woman deciding who she will be, of the power of books. Here is a memoir that manages to be dreamlike but sharp, poignant but unsentimental. Here is a book I'm going to have to insist you read immediately -- Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements Joanna Rakoff is the literary world's Lena Dunham, both of them witty, sensitive, elegantly baffled, zeitgeist-hitting Brooklyn ladies of their respective half-generations -- Sheila Weller, author of the New York Times bestseller, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon-and the Journey of a Generation This is an impossibly excellent read-a glowingly entertaining, miss-your-subway-stop engrossing, note-perfect piece of storytelling -- Charles Bock, author of New York Times bestseller, Beautiful Children An utterly beguiling memoir, not only about Salinger and a bygone era of publishing, but about relationships, finding one's voice, and surviving in the big city -- Caroline Sanderson Bookseller A warm, witty, occasionally sly piece of storytelling ... An affectionate love letter to a first job in an industry that in just 20 years has changed beyond recognition -- Sam Baker Harper's Bazaar My Salinger Year's reference points, from the Brooklyn brownstones to the Danish pastries wolfed on the number 6 train to 51st Street, are all American, but the emotional landscape it conjures up will be just as true for readers on this side of the pond. Anyone who has struggled to find their bearings as an unworldly young adult will be deeply moved by it - I certainly was -- Emma Hughes Country Life A coming-of-age book ... fun and easy to read -- Ann Cleeves People's Friend
Joanna Rakoff is a poet and the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which won the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers, was a New York Times Editors' Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers' Prize and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Time Out and O:The Oprah Magazine. The BBC produced a radio documentary following her as she tracked down the writer of her favourite Salinger fan letter. She has degrees from Columbia University, University College London and Oberlin College. Joanna Rakoff lives in Boston. joannarakoff.com