Kenneth Slawenski

J. D. Salinger's biographer recommends three classics, including one from his subject.



In 2004, Kenneth Slawenski established a website—the puckishly titled—as an online resource for readers and students of J. D. Salinger's life and works.  Now, building on a decade of research, he has produced J. D. Salinger: A Life, a monumental biography of the iconic, enigmatic author of The Catcher in the Rye and the Glass family cycle of stories. Kenneth Slawenski selects for us three of his favorite reads—and makes the case for his favorite work of Salinger's along the way.


Books by Kenneth Slawenski




A Distant Mirror

By Barbara W. Tuchman


"Tuchman knew how to embed every page with a maximum payload of details, while still retaining lightness. A Distant Mirror is possibly her finest delivery. It effortlessly displays the 14th century—not as history—but as a reflection of our own generation."





Babi Yar

By A. Anatoli Kuznetsov


"This is a true story reconstructed from the diary of a ten-year-old Ukranian boy who was perhaps the sole survivor of the Nazi slaughter pit at Babi Yar. The account is powerful and damning. It leaves the reader incredulous over the depths of human depravity."




Franny and Zooey

By J. D. Salinger


"Sorry, Catcher fans, this is perhaps Salinger's masterpiece. "Franny" offers brilliant dialogue and subtlety, while "Zooey" is a brave work, contemplating the modern perils of spirituality without a blush. And, of course, there's a 'fat lady' at the end. How can you go wrong?"


April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.