Author in Focus: Donna Tartt

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Donna Tartt is the critically acclaimed author of The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002) and The Goldfinch (2013). She rose to international fame after the release of her debut novel, and is celebrated for her dark, literary writing style. She won the Pulitzer Prize for The Goldfinch, which was recently adapted into a film starring Ansel Elgort and Aneurin Barnard.

Each of her novels is a true work of art, taking a setting that Tartt knows well, and creates a beautiful dark fictional world within it. Every book is mesmerisingly atmospheric, with a twisted plot the follows the darker side of the human spirit and captures your very soul. For many fans, its easy to become obsessed – Donna Tartt’s novels will consume you in a way the stops you from putting them down. This is an author to fall in love with.

The Secret History was met with critical and commercial acclaim following its publication in the 90s. It has since been translated into dozens of languages and stands out as a classic of our time. Following the college experiences of Richard Papen, The Secret History tells a dark story of murder and elitism in a New Hampshire University. It’s a murder mystery, but instead of discovering the culprit, we must instead unpick their motives. The whole atmosphere of the book is heavy to the point of suffocation; it’s an emotional task to read it, and it’s even harder to cope with having finished it.

The Little Friend takes a starkly different approach – again, opening with a gruesome murder – but this time venturing into the Southern Gothic of small-town Mississippi, told from the perspective of a young girl trying to track down her brother’s killer. It serves as further evidence that Donna Tartt can find the darkness in any setting and use it to draw you into a tale from which you can’t seem to escape.

Finally, and most recently, came The Goldfinch, which rightfully earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and gave her the credit of literary genius that has been made obvious with each release. Following the life of Theo Decker, it’s an exploration of the effects of a single tragedy on his life and the criminal path that followed. Set between the claustrophobic streets of New York City and the stifling heat of the Las Vegas desert, The Goldfinch is a shining example of Donna Tartt’s brilliance in creating engaging characters. In each of her novels, it’s the people at the centre of the plot who remain wholly unforgettable, no matter how many years it has been since you finished the book.

Donna Tartt is truly among the greatest writers in modern literature, and her novels should be on every reading list out there. And, perhaps if one of these great works has been on your reading list for a while, consider this a gentle reminder to pick it up now, and get reading.

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Records Editor 2019/2020. Second year French and Spanish student. Always going through some kind of music-based phase, frequently crying about The Cure.

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