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Fairfield Books On Station: "At the core of the Neapolitan Novels is an exploration of the vibrant, competitive, demanding friendship between Elena and Lila."

Date: Apr 20 2015

Over the last few years, the Neapolitan Novels of Elena Ferrante have slowly earned an ardent fan base, including the writers Zadie Smith, James Wood and Jhumpa Lahiri. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, an editor at the New Yorker, Ferrante’s series is published in Australia by Text Publishing. Some of the hype comes from the author’s anonymity: there has been great speculation on Ferrante’s true identity (as covered
by the New York Times and The Guardian) and the current edition of The Paris Review has scored quite the coup, publishing the first-ever in-person interview with the writer behind the name.

But most of the attention is inspired by the gorgeousness of Ferrante’s writing — absorbing and seamless — and her choice of subject matter. At the core of the Neapolitan Novels is an exploration of the vibrant, competitive, demanding friendship between Elena and Lila, tracing the lives of the two women from their shared childhood in a poor neighbourhood of Naples in the 1950s. What is unusual about this series — My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay — is that it is all about these women, and their friendship, and their intertwining lives, as brilliant and erratic and dark as that may be.

I found the first two titles simply splendid, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the fourth and final installment, The Story of the Lost Child, as soon as it comes out later this year (rumoured to be in September). We have the three first titles in, so don’t miss out on these gorgeous quiet achievers.