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…
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'The Fappening': Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how the internet reacted
- 3 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 4 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, review: Revolution still seems far off
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, ITV, review: There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning
Foo Fighters: 2015 tour dates announced for Sonic Highways
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God