US novelist J.D. Salinger dies at 91: agent

NEW YORK (AFP) – Reclusive US novelist J.D. Salinger, a giant of American literature for his legendary work “The Catcher in the Rye,” has died at 91, his agent said Thursday.

Salinger died Wednesday in New Hampshire, the Harold Ober Associates agency in New York said. The cause of death was not announced.

Born in 1919, Salinger was part of a generation of major 20th century US novelists. However, he had not published an original work since 1965 and was a total recluse, refusing interviews for the last three decades.

His 1951 tale of teenage rebellion, “The Catcher in the Rye,” made him world famous, but he shrank from the glare of success, retreating to his house in the small town of Cornish, New Hampshire.

He fiercely guarded his privacy, turning to the courts to stop publication of his letters and refusing offers to sell movie rights to “Catcher.”

Just in July last year, a US judge suspended the publication of an unauthorized sequel to “Catcher” by Swedish author Fredrik Colting.

Salinger’s death was likely to reignite speculation over whether he may have produced valuable works.

He hinted at this in a tantalising interview with the Boston Sunday Globe in 1980, where he said: “I love to write, and I assure you I write regularly. But I write for myself and I want to be left absolutely alone to do it.”

The market for any posthumous Salinger writings would likely be highly lucrative.

Letters he wrote to his young lover Joyce Maynard, with whom he started a year-long relationship in 1972, sold for more than 150,000 dollars at auction in 1999.

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