Congratulations, Donna Tartt!

donna tarttThis year’s Pulitzer Prize recipients were announced and the winner of the fiction prize is Donna Tartt‘s novel, The Goldfinch. Congratulations, Donna!

I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Donna Tartt. It all started back when I was working on my MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her first novel, The Secret History, had just been published, and everyone was talking about it. I was really looking forward to reading it–I’d read some of her short fiction and loved it, so I was certain I’d love The Secret History. Well, that didn’t really happen. Everyone else loved it. I hated it. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it, so I set it aside and decided to give it another try later. So I waited…in fact, I waited six months and tried again. Nope, no dice. Still didn’t like it. I felt like I’d been duped. I thought the language was inauthentic, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief to accept that anything like what was taking place in the novel was even possible. I shoved the book back into my bookshelf and forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years and I moved to Sweden. I was having a hard time finding any books in English that I really wanted to read and books in English were rather expensive for a very broke English teacher who was only working part-time. I was going through a box of old papers and found my copy of The Secret History, which I didn’t even remember packing. Out of desperation, I began reading it again. This time, though, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the watery grey light of Swedish winter that lent itself to the book’s mood. Suddenly, I liked The Secret Historythough I never fell in love with it in the same way that many others did.

But I came to see that Donna Tartt‘s writing style was moody, lush and exquisite. When her next novel, The Little Friend, was published, I practically devoured it. It was such a riveting story…terrifying, compelling and a great example of modern Southern Gothic.

Now it’s been a while since The Goldfinch was published and, while I have it on my To Be Read List, I haven’t managed to get to it yet. Perhaps it’s time. It’s been on my Kindle long enough.

4 thoughts on “Congratulations, Donna Tartt!

  1. Great post, Kim. And so true how books can be seen differently at different stages of one’s life. Like you, I liked, but didn’t love ‘ The Secret History’, although I did love her writing. Want to read The Goldfinch, and was very sorry to have been busy the evening Donna Tartt was in Rome recently, speaking about this book. Not sure if you’re following #Readwomen2014, but another cheer for (talented) women authors with a well-deserved Pulitzer.

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