Is Donna Tartt a Recluse?



Donna Tartt’s new book, The Goldfinch has just been published.  Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors and can’t wait to read her new book.  I loved The Secret History but, for me, The Little Friend was a much better book.  It’s one of the few books published in the last twenty years that I’ve read more than once.  It’s like a modern To Kill a Mockingbird with the perfect balance of pace, tension, and character development.

Below is an excerpt from a rare interview with Donna Tartt has given to Kirst Wark for BBC 4’s Review Show.  I watched it on BBC but, not living in the UK, I can’t view the interiew on the BBC iplayer so the link below is the only clip I’ve managed to locate on youtube so far.  Donna Tartt’s new novel is based very loosely on the life of the Dutch painter Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) and it’s his painting of a chained goldfinch that graces the book’s cover.  I’d never heard of Carel Fabritius but I’m sure Tartt’s book will provoke an increased interest in the painter.  I’m so tempted to buy her book now but think I’ll manage to contain myself until Christmas as it will make the perfect Christmas present to myself!

On a side note it’s been amazing to see how many reviews refer to Donna Tartt as a recluse.  A Google search for “Tartt” and “recluse” pulls up almost 10,000 results.  I think the media sometimes think that if a person doesn’t play the publicity game that they’re obviously exhibiting signs of mental illness.  Maybe Donna Tartt only rises after dark, and has food passed through a slot in a door by a team of deaf-mute eunuchs, but I doubt it.  Not doing endless media interviews does not make you a recluse.  J.D. Salinger, despite media claims, was not a recluse.  He lived quietly but he was often seen shopping and going about his daily life in the town of Cornish, New Hampshire.  We love the idea of the mad genius, shunning publicity, and working maniacally like some mad scientist in their castle.  And if an artist refuses to give the media a story then the story they fabricate is that of a misanthropic recluse.  Watching Donna Tartt’s interview she doesn’t come across as anything other than a highly intelligent, warm, and humourous artist.  I’m looking forward to opening The Goldfinch on Christmas morning and I really hope that The Goldfinch has a character as wonderful as Harriet in The Little Friend.


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