J. D. Salinger, who the NY Times says "was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91."
Raised in Manhattan, says Wikipedia, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II.
In 1948 he published the critically acclaimed story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers.
The novel remains widely read and controversial, selling around 250,000 copies a year.