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My Salinger Year Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408830175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408830178
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.5 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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 2014-06-16)

This book is hard to put down. irresistible (Lucy Atkins Sunday Times)

Like a literary The Devil Wears Prada . an irresistible read (Harper's Bazaar)

Anyone who has ever dreamed of a life in books will find much to love in Joanna Rakoff's memoir ... Funny and knowing, it's both an idiosyncratic tribute to Salinger's writing and an affirmation of the power of books to spark tectonic human connections (Metro)

Extraordinary ... Gripping and funny ... My Salinger Year is a treat even Jerry might have enjoyed (Rachel Cooke Observer)

An elegant memoir (Jane Shilling Sunday Telegraph)

In prose that is clear, precise and evocative, Rakoff renders her people and places touchably real (Hannah McGill Independent)

This is a funny, delightful, coming-of-age memoir that completely caught me off guard. So absorbing is it that I devoured the whole thing in one sitting (Woman & Home)

A charming coming-of-age memoir that fizzes with youthful energy and bookish insight (Good Housekeeping)

Spellbinding . You don't have to be a Salinger fan to fall under Rakoff's spell; I'm not and I did (Laura Miller Guardian)

Poignant and witty (Company Magazine)

Elegantly written, wryly observed, Rakoff's memoir is a high-quality literary snack (Financial Times)

This is a book for book lovers; not just those who love stories, but those fascinated with peeking "behind the curtain" . A magnificent portrait of a fascinating year; a pleasure to read (Irish Examiner)

Rakoff's raw, honest descriptions of her life in Brooklyn and her loser boyfriend turn this book into a coming of age tale, as Catcher is. But My Salinger Year is more than just a snapshot of a particular time and place. The most powerful and original parts of the book describe the intimate relationships Rakoff establishes with the readers through their letters and explore her theory that ultimately writing is an anatomy of loss (Literary Review)

A coming-of-age book . fun and easy to read (Ann Cleeves People's Friend)

[An] evocative memoir . A lively period piece played out against the alluring backdrop of Manhattan (Emma Hagestadt Independent)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In 1996 author Joanna Rakoff, then twenty three, got her first proper job in New York at a very old, prestigious literary agency. She had recently returned to the States from London, where she had been studying. Now she had dreams of being a poet and, despite her parents expecting her to marry her college sweetheart, was living with Don – an aspiring novelist, socialist and, frankly, not marriage material.

This charming memoir is about growing up, as much as it is about working in publishing. Joanna is coming to terms with adult life – the worry of debt, having to pay the bills, coping with her feelings for Don and also the excitement of her new job. It is obvious that Joanna is a great lover of literature; an aspiring poet, she is hoping that working for ‘the Agency’ will lead to her exciting and involving jobs, such as reading manuscripts or dealing with authors. However, what she finds is something a little more mundane. For what appears months, she does little but type – on a typewriter. For the Agency distains modern gadgets like computers and, although there are references to “electronic books,” they are only as some kind of science fiction rumour that will never really exist in reality.

Joanna’s boss is a lady who has worked for the Agency for years and is known to have frightened off lesser assistants. However, Joanna is made of sterner stuff and, besides, she needs the money. Her boss deals with many authors, but their most famous client is J.D.Salinger, known to her boss as ‘Jerry’. Almost the first thing that Joanna is told is that she must never give out the personal details, address or phone number, of the reclusive author. Joanna has, though, never read anything by him and is, at first, slightly snobbish about his work.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was instantly attracted to this book by its title - the magic word `Salinger' sparkled like something shiny to a magpie, even if a long time has passed since I last read the works of the late, reclusive author.

"My Salinger Year" isn't a novel, but reads like one. Joanna Krakoff's's memoirs begins with her first step into working life as a lowly secretary (sorry, `assistant') at one of New Yorks's oldest literary agencies - a strange, old-fashioned place which, at the time when the events take place in 1996, still favours typewriters over computers. The Agency's most famous living client is the reclusive J.D. Salinger - the notoriously difficult author of one of the most important American novels of the 20th Century.

Salinger's name got my attention, but this fascinating memoir makes such a good read for a lot of good reasons; it's a snapshot of working in pre-9/11 New York, and the last glimpse of an industry which was soon going to change beyond recognition with the advent of e-readers and independent publishing. On a really simple, stripped down level, MSY is almost a real-life, reworked version of Melanie Griffith's film `A Working Girl'. And deep down, it is also a Holden-like coming of age story: after a year of typing endless letters and answering Salinger's fan mail, Joanna is finally close to becoming an agent herself. But that's when she decides to move on, and the book ends with Joanna hearing the news that Salinger has died. It's a very poignant ending, which sums up the connection that Joanna had felt with this legendary author during the brief time they crossed paths: "It's just about Salinger."
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Joanna Rakoff spent a year, in 1996 when she was 23, working as an assistant at the literary agency in New York which represented J.D. Salinger. It's a quirky place of typewriters, carbon copies, and hushed tones when referring to 'Jerry' himself. Joanna received the fan letters for the author which she was expected to reply to with a form letter but instead she found herself writing proper responses and getting embroiled in the stories of strangers..

I really enjoyed this memoir. I loved the agency and its old-fashioned ways and I liked reading about the way it operated. Rakoff also talks about her private life, her aspiring author boyfriend and her parents. Her colleagues were great, a fairly eccentric bunch. This is an endearing look at a special year for this writer and it doesn't matter if you've never read any J.D. Salinger books. I haven't and it took nothing away from the pleasure of the read for me.
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By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 6 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
In the mid 1990s, Joanna Rakoff, keen to pursue her ambition of becoming a poet, leaves graduate school at the age of twenty-three with a master's in English and moves to New York City. In New York she takes a low paid job as assistant to a literary agent, who acts for the writer J D Salinger, an author Joanna has surprisingly not read. The literary agency is a well-regarded, but old-fashioned organisation, which seems to manage without any modern technology, and Joanna, who had thought she would be spending most of her working day reading manuscripts, is dismayed to discover that the bulk of her job consists of typing letters for her boss on an old-fashioned typewriter and listening to dictation from an ancient Dictaphone operated by foot pedals. Joanna is given strict instructions that she must never divulge Salinger's contact details and that she must never contact the author herself or try to interest him in her own writing. Joanna is also required to deal with Salinger's fan mail by politely informing his fans that the author does not accept unsolicited mail. At first Joanna follows instructions and answers the letters with a standard form letter, but she then becomes involved with the varied and problematic lives of the writers of the letters and she soon begins to compose individual replies, even offering her own advice and possible solutions to their problems.Read more ›
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