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NY Times: “Ferrante deserves credit for setting her own terms and insisting that the focus remain on her work. Jonathan Franzen should be so lucky.”

Date: Sep 11 2015

In the Shadows: The fourth and final volume of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, “The Story of the Lost Child,” hits the trade paperback list at No. 3. (“My Brilliant Friend,” the first of the series, joins it at No. 8.) Ferrante, who uses a pseudonym, has long guarded her privacy: Before her debut novel appeared in 1991, she told her Italian publishers she would not go on TV, attend conferences or grant any interviews except in writing. But she recently let those same publishers interview her for The Paris Review — in person! — and said her reasons had shifted. “Back then, I was frightened at the thought of having to come out of my shell,” she said. “Timidity prevailed. Later, I came to feel hostility toward the media, which doesn’t pay attention to books themselves and values a work according to the author’s reputation.” That includes a reputation for silence, of course — there are all kinds of ways to create a persona — but Ferrante deserves credit for setting her own terms and insisting that the focus remain on her work. Jonathan Franzen should be so lucky.