Literature: The secret history of Donna Tartt
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Wednesday 13 February 2013
Her production rate may be arthritically slow, but the news will delight her fans. The cultish American novelist Donna Tartt will publish another book in October – her third, after the international bestseller The Secret History (1992) and its follow-up, The Little Friend (2002).
Observing her fondness for a 10-year gap in publication, readers in 2012 wondered if that year might bring a new work. Little Brown, her publisher, revealed it has been sitting on the new book since 2008, and had pencilled in a 2012 launch date – but it was mysteriously pushed back.
Last summer the book was still untitled. It now has a title, The Goldfinch, and concerns a young New York boy who survives an explosion that kills his mother, lives rough and is drawn into the “art underworld” through his obsession with a small painting.
Tartt, 49, is big on youthful obsession. The Secret History, set in a posh college in Vermont, traces the lives of six classics students whose adventures take on the dimensions of a Greek tragedy and involve them in a murder. The Little Friend concerns a girl called Harriet who is obsessed with her brother’s death, stalks the man whom she thinks responsible until he becomes obsessed with her. Murder, guilt, unpunished crime and death of innocence are her themes.
Tartt’s books have a voice that’s dry, calm, allusive and unexcitable, even when she’s telling you shocking things. She’s also famous for her love of privacy. She hasn’t given an interview since 2003 and was always reluctant to discuss her personal life. So readers have themselves become a little obsessed with her: with her 1920s bob haircut; her position in the so-called Brat Pack who took US fiction by storm in the 1980s; her friendship with Bret Easton Ellis; her fondness for the novel True Grit, which she has narrated on audiobook; that her great-grandmother was Scottish and read her the works of J M Barrie and R L Stevenson.
Stand by for a flurry of excitement in October as the transatlantic literati compete to interview her – and try to find out why the new book has taken so long…
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan sent home
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyonce '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed and films daughter Blue Ivy in lo-fi homage to viral video
Why are the words 'mongol', 'mongoloid' and 'mongy' still bandied about as insults?
Tom DeLonge compares streaming music to killing elephants
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict