Slate Staff Pick
Slate’s columnists, editors, and bloggers pick their favorite books of the year.
By Slate Staff
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elena Ferrante
Recommended by Seth Maxon, home page editor
I’d like to nominate the Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. The series, which consists of My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, which came out this fall—contains some of the richest, loveliest prose I’ve read in many years. The story’s world—that of Lila and Lenu, two intelligent girls who grow up as competitive best friends amid working class Naples in the 1950s, and pursue divergent educational and romantic lives—is as beautifully rendered as it is darkly inhabited, by the ugliness of classism, domestic and sexual violence, and adolescent dread. Despite that darkness, the books bleed empathy.