Donna Tartt

American writer

Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963) is an American writer.


  • I don’t think it’s a good idea for a writer to psychoanalyze herself or try to explain why she writes what she writes—it’s a reductive way of looking at oneself and one’s work. Readers really participate in the writing of a book. As a writer I’m giving the reader signs to help create the story with me. The reader is bringing his or her own memories, intelligence, preconceptions, prejudices, likes, dislikes. So the characters in your copy of the book are going to look and sound different than in mine. I have my own ideas, but once the book is out there it’s not really mine anymore, and my own idea isn’t any more valid than yours. And then I begin the long process of disengaging.
  • This is something that the novel does better than any other art form: reproducing the inner life and the inner experience of another person, particularly extreme forms of consciousness like grief, dreams, drunkenness, spiritual revelations, even insanity. Unlike movies, where we’re always onlookers, in novels we have the experience of being someone else: knowing another person’s soul from the inside. No other art form does that. And I like dealing with particularly intense inner experiences because I think that in many ways, this is what the novel does best.
  • As a writer, I think I’m more an eye than an ear — the world comes mainly in for me at the eye. So I’m glad the visuals came through for you. As I’m writing my books, I really do see them almost literally — I experience scenes almost as an onlooker, watching from the outside.
  • Something I think you’re very conscious of growing up in the South is people who speak correctly and people who don’t…George Orwell said, ‘Englishmen are all branded on the tongue.’ It’s the same for southerners. I grew up around people who had wonderful, mellifluous voices; there’s also that twangy cracker accent. And then you were also aware of black English…
    • On how English is spoken amongst Southerners in "Smart Tartt", Vanity Fair (September 1999)

Quotes about Donna Tartt

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