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Tin House: "[Ferrante] holds nothing back from her portrayal of gender and culture and her writing is able to truly speak for itself."

Date: May 16 2014

Rebekah Bergman (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): After reading (and becoming enamored with) Elena Ferrante’s novel The Days of Abandonment earlier this year, I started the first of her three “Neapolitan Novels,” My Brilliant Friend. The series follows two girls from Naples through childhood and into adulthood as their friendship and identities are challenged, stifled, and nourished by familial and societal expectations. Ferrante is an elusive figure. Though she (he?) has 9 novels to her name, the Italian author writes under a pseudonym and refuses to make public appearance. This, I think, serves her immensely. She holds nothing back from her portrayal of gender and culture and her writing is able to truly speak for itself. My Brilliant Friend is a deeply intimate portrayal—not only of Lila and Elena, but of their families, their city, and the changing world of the 1950s. It lacks the intense, psychological drama of the scorned lover in Days of Abandonment, but its power is more subtle and therefore, I expect, more sustainable over the course of the two subsequent books. I will soon find out if this is true. When I finished My Brilliant Friend, I bought the second novel in the series immediately.

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