In J. D. Salinger’s first novel, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield has been kicked out of yet another prep school, and sets off to wander New York City as he wrestles with looming adulthood. Originally published in serial form in 1945 and 1946, then in full in 1951, J. D. Salinger’s coming-of-age tale displays the angst and instability of adolescence, exploring complex themes of identity, loss, sex and death. In the 70 years since Caulfield first cynically railed against the world’s superficiality, the character has grown into an icon of teen rebellion, describing a timeless sense of alienation. More than 65 million copies of the influential text have been sold, and a generation of writers including Philip Roth have been inspired by its voice. Despite many attempted bids to adapt the story for the screen, Salinger’s estate has never allowed it to be optioned—keeping with the infamously reclusive author’s wishes. —Madeleine Carlisle

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