Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Donna Tartt (1-7 of 7)

Donna Tartt's 'Goldfinch': Love it or hate it?

It’s not every year that an 800-page literary novel becomes as popular as The Goldfinch. Yet the book, which has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 33 weeks, is pretty polarizing – people either seem to really like it or they can’t stand it. It wasn’t nominated for the National Book Award, but it won the Pulitzer.

Last week Vanity Fair surveyed literary critics who panned the book when it came out. New Yorker critic James Wood, who wrote in his original review that the book’s “tone, language, and story belong to children’s literature,” told Vanity Fair that “the rapture with which this novel has been received is further proof of the infantilization of our literary culture: a world in which adults go around reading Harry Potter.” Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review, said that Tartt’s novel uses, rather than breaks, clichés. “Nowadays, even The New York Times Book Review is afraid to say when a popular book is crap,” he said. Stein thinks The Goldfinch might misrepresent fiction as a whole. “What worries me is that people who read only one or two books a year will plunk down their money for The Goldfinch, and read it, and tell themselves they like it, but deep down will be profoundly bored, because they aren’t children, and will quietly give up on the whole enterprise when, in fact, fiction—realistic fiction, old or new—is as alive and gripping as it’s ever been.”

None of these reviews hurt The Goldfinch, of course, which is still a huge best-seller. It’s so popular that even though it’s a Hachette title, it’s exempt from the current Amazon-Hachette feud. While other Hachette books, such as Malcolm Gladwell’s, might take three weeks to get to your house, Amazon offers regular shipping  for Tartt’s novel.

Most people probably didn’t go out and buy The Goldfinch because they heard it has “fine-chiseled sentences” or whatever other phrase usually employed to praise a work of literary fiction. I suspect they picked it up because they heard it tells a great story – the book’s popularity seems to rest on Tartt’s storytelling skills and not on her prose (in her review of The Goldfinch, Francine Prose wrote about Tartt’s “baffling turns of phrase”). Even the Pulitzer committee said the book “stimulates the mind and touches the heart” but didn’t mention anything about the writing style.

Did you love The Goldfinch or hate it? And why?

2014 Pulitzer Prize winners announced; Donna Tartt takes the big fiction prize

The-Goldfinch.jpg

Donna Tartt’s sprawling literary epic that centers on a mysterious little painting has taken the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, besting other lengthy titles, such as The Son by Philipp  Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis, both of which received “A” grades from EW. READ FULL STORY

On The Books: CIA used 'Dr. Zhivago' as anti-USSR propoganda

When I first read that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to breakdown the USSR during The Cold War, I assumed that they forced Soviets to watch that movie on repeat as a form of torture. I know, I know, before you get all up in arms about “how wonderful that film is” and “what a classic,” I’m a big fan of Omar Sharif and Alec Guinness (hello, Lawrence of Arabia.) But think about Dr. Zhivago‘s torture potential. No human could watch that 3+ hour Russian downer drama twice in a row without cracking. You would have to have a will of steel not to end up in a ball crying, “The balalaika! It’s always the balalaika!”

But I guess the CIA wasn’t on the same page. According to recently declassified CIA documents, the U.S. government commissioned Russian-language editions of Boris Pasternak’s novel (which Mother Russia had banned) and distributed them to citizens in Moscow. The story largely takes place during the Bolshevik Revolution and dramatizes the casualties of the Communist rising, so the Americans thought it would make great anti-USSR propaganda. We should fight more wars with these kinds of non-lethal weapons. This plot ranks right up there with blue jeans and MTV bringing down the Berlin Wall. [Washington Post]

READ FULL STORY

On the Books: David Nicholls takes on 'Us,' his first book after 'One Day'

One-Day-poster.jpg

David Nicholls, the author behind the novel One Day – which sold 5 million copies worldwide and garnered a film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess — has finally announced a publication date for his next novel. After five years in the works, Us will hit shelves on September 30, 2014. This story is about a family on the brink of dissolution — a husband and wife of 21 years who are about to call it quits and their college-bound son. But before everything falls apart, the husband takes them on a grand tour of Europe in hopes of knitting their lives back together. So this is basically the flip side of One Day, which was a 20-year search for romance; Us is a 20-year breakdown of love. While ruminating on Us, Nicholls also wrote the screen adaptation of Great Expectations for the version released last year starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes.  [The Guardian]

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch will also be getting a screen adaptation, although the scope of that project hasn’t been decided yet. The producers behind The Hunger Games films have optioned the book, but they’re waiting on “the right filmmaker” to determine the book’s cinematic future, which could be a television miniseries or a movie. The Goldfinch has been gaining more and more momentum since its October 2013 release. The New York Times named it one of the best books of 2013 and it has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Bailey Prize. [The Wrap]

Serhiy Zhadan — Ukraine’s most famous counterculture writer according to The New Yorker – suffered a violent beating at the hands of a pro-Russian mob on Saturday. Photos of his bloody face made the rounds online, but he posted this note on his Facebook page to reassure his supporters: “Friends, with me everything is okay.” Zhadan is a national icon in Ukraine and his abuse will reverberate through the Ukrainian populace. Unfortunately The New Yorker reports that:

Now, Zhadan is back in the hospital—his jaw has not been healing properly. But, he wrote in an e-mail, the beating has not deterred him. “It’s very simple,” he wrote. “I don’t want to live in a country of corruption and injustice. I, like millions of other Ukrainians, would like to have a normal measure of power. A dictatorship is not normal, and people who don’t protest injustice, they have no future.”

Amazon picks its 10 best books of 2013

The-Goldfinch.jpg

Only a week into November, Amazon has already called its picks for best books of 2013. Some of the choices are bold, some are expected, but decide for yourself whether Amazon’s faves will make your holiday list. EW’s list is coming shortly, so stay tuned! READ FULL STORY

Fall Books Preview: 14 big titles to watch out for

Doctor-Sleep

We’ve had our fun with summer books, but now that it’s starting to get too cold for the beach, it’s time to break out some of the biggest-name authors in publishing. From popular non-fiction (Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath) to huge sequels (Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep and Helen Fielding’s next Bridget Jones novel) to heavy fiction (Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch) to award contenders (Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland), we’re giving you a sneak peek at the books we’re most looking forward to.

FIRST UP: The Secret History author’s first book in 12 years

Donna Tartt's first novel in 11 years gets title, release date

Don’t be so quick to diagnose writer’s block. Like many literary authors, Donna Tartt simply prefers to write at a deliberate pace. Upon its 1992 release, Tartt’s debut novel The Secret History became one of those once-in-a-decade sensations that not only won rave reviews but also enjoyed considerable commercial success and made a celebrity of the young author. Her much-anticipated, long-awaited follow-up, 2002′s The Little Friend, didn’t win the same acclaim. We’ve had to wait even longer for her third novel The Goldfinch, which is coming out Oct. 22, 11 years after The Little Friend. Here’s the plot description for the new book: READ FULL STORY

Latest Videos in Books

Advertisement

From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP