Book Review: My Salinger Year

“My Salinger Year” by Joanna Rakoff is a refreshing, yet easy read.

“My Salinger Year”  is a book that begs to be read not because of how it’s written, but because of it’s story. A memoir of the author’s days after graduate school, the book brilliantly mixes the themes of friendship, growing older, and the line between right and wrong, while capturing the digitalization of the 1990s. “My Salinger Year”, released in 2014 by Joanna Rakoff, quickly became a bestseller in the genre of creative nonfiction.


The genre “creative nonfiction” is, relatively, quite new. The term was coined by professor Lee Gutkind at the University of Pittsburgh who taught a class with creative nonfiction in the title as early as 1973. “My Salinger Year” is creative nonfiction in the sense that it reads like fiction, with dialogue and a plot, only it is true.


Joanna Rakoff tells the story of the author’s year as an assitant at a literary agency of J.D. Salinger in the mid 90s. Tasked with answering fan mail to Salinger’s standards, Joanna struggles with doing what she’s asked. All the while, Salinger expresses interest in publishing one of his long short stories as a novel by a tiny printing press in Alexandria, Virginia.
“My Salinger Year” certainly has it’s flaws. The book is simple, and reads like the typical, 20-something chick-flick novel— girl moves to New York City, has big dreams on becoming a poet, and struggles with her low paying, but idolized job. Yet readers who can move past what the book seems at first-impression will see that this is more than just a simple read. “My Salinger Year” perfectly meshes a thousand contrasting themes such as growing up and moving on, going after dreams and settling, making it a refreshing, yet easy read.