The book, which Simon & Schuster described in a news release as “an oral biography,” is titled “The Private War of J.D. Salinger” and is planned for publication in September. Mr. Karp said that Mr. Shields and Mr. Salerno had been working on the project for eight years, conducting interviews with more than 150 people who worked with and knew Salinger or were influenced by his work.
Mr. Karp said in a statement: “We are honored to be the publisher of what we believe will be the foundational book on one of the most beloved and most puzzling figures of the 20th century. Many of us who read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ have, at some point in our lives, wished we could know the author better. Now, we finally can.”
Salinger, whose other books include “Franny and Zooey” and “Nine Stories” (containing short stories like “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”), died in 2010. Having sought to maintain privacy for most of his life, he was a largely unknown figure to his readers. He had not given an interview in some 30 years.
Mr. Salerno, a screenwriter (“Savages”), said in a statement: “The myth that people have read about and believed for 60 years about J.D. Salinger is one of someone too pure to publish, too sensitive to be touched. We replace the myth of Salinger with an extraordinarily complex, deeply contradictory human being. Our book offers a complete revaluation and reinterpretation of the work and the life.”
A documentary film about Salinger, directed by Mr. Salerno, was acquired by the PBS series “American Masters” and will be broadcast as the 200th episode of that program.
Simon & Schuster said that Mr. Karp and Jofie Ferrari-Adler, a senior editor, had been pursuing the Salinger book for several years and acquired it before other publishers could read it. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.