Today The Guardian published an article entitled “Donna Tartt: Is this the year of The Goldfinch?” Of course I read it. I first read Tartt over ten years ago and something in me still remembers how it made me feel – that discovery of an author who did something different to all the other authors you had ever read, an author who wrote what felt like real life and real people.
She was one of the first adult writers I read on my own (at the age of 15 I was reading Lord of the Flies and Shakespeare at school, and at home I was somewhere between Northern Lights and the Chrestomanci novels by Diana Wynne Jones) and she opened up a whole new world for me. Not just to world of The Secret History, but the world of ‘literature’ that I could completely grasp and understand on my own – though it took two readings for me to really get all of it.
The Little Friend had already come out when I read The Secret History, so I dived right in. As the article I’ve mentioned states, “The Little Friend is a far more convincing, technically accomplished and formally sophisticated novel than The Secret History” and so as a ‘young reader’ it was a bit tricky for me. But I loved it anyway and luxuriated in Tartt’s language and the captivating (and utterly real) characters. Its difficulties are why it is currently on my To Re-Read List, and when I’ve got the time (!) I really cannot wait to get into it again.
Anyway. My reason for writing this article is that even though Tartt won the Pulitzer recently, and The Goldfinch was a huge success, and everyone thinks she’ll win the Booker, and the Bailey’s Prize, she has not become so ‘big’ that she cannot connect with her readers, or that she has become engulfed by the amazingness of her own talent. She is a rare type of writer, in a vein with (for me) Marilynne Robinson and Truman Capote – someone who simultaneously takes us on flights of fancy and also completely, utterly, gets what life is and how people are, even if they don’t know it. I read their work and I think, god, yes, how do you know that? That is so true.
I guess this is how people get ‘favourite authors’.
Here is the Guardian article for you.