Salinger’s novel killed John Lennon – with Tobi Lakmaker

Salinger’s novel killed John Lennon – with Tobi Lakmaker

After Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon in cold blood in New York, he did not flee. Instead, he stayed at the crime scene, reading the book he was obsessed with: The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Sallinger. In the book he wrote: this is my statement.

Even before the murder, The Catcher in the Rye was controversial. It was banned from schools because of the offensive language. Yet it was considered a masterpiece ever since its publication in 1951. Critics praised it for its sharp portrayal of ‘the youth’. And readers couldn’t get enough of it: the book was on the New York Times bestseller list for thirty weeks.

Young people still recognize themselves in the theme of the novel: isolation, misunderstanding, the loss of innocence and depression. The book is anti-establishment, cool and cynical; perhaps the ultimate coming of age novel. The author, JD Salinger, withdrew from society. Who was he? And how did The Catcher in the Rye become such a classic?

Michel Krielaars discusses it with book editor Thomas de Veen and writer Tobi Lakmaker. An episode about trauma, purity, annoying main characters and how books can be misinterpreted.

This is the fifth installment of a series about books that changed the world.

Michel Krielaars
Thomas de Veen & Tobi Lakmaker
Editing and editing:
Jeanne Geerken
Getty Images