Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend
Naples-born author Elena Ferrante has swept through the literary world like a whirlwind. If you’ve read her novels, you’ll understand why she’s so popular.
Ferrante’s first novel in her best-selling Neapolitan series, My Brilliant Friend, premieres on HBO Sunday. The series features two young girls Elena and Lila, growing up in an impoverished Naples neighborhood when the city was still recovering from the ravages of the Allies battling Nazi forces street by street in 1944.
In the Neapolitan series, Elena (or Lenu’ in Naples dialect, Ferrante’s autobiographical character) and Lila maintain a powerful emotional bond that lasts for decades. But the girls have different personalities: Elena is sensitive and emotionally expressive; Lila is inscrutable and tempermental. Their relationship is troubled by their differences.
Ferrante is passionate about her privacy. She uses this pen name to remain behind the curtain, not granting interviews, attending book fairs, or revealing her name.
When an Italian journalist reported that he had discovered her identify, social media exploded with indignation and rage. “If she wants to protect her identity, let her!” was the message from fans. They respect her for wanting to maintain her privacy and not become a public figure.
BBC wrote a defense of her privacy, saying that Ferrante fever has spread around the world and gathered millions of readers of her four book series that spans 50 years of two girls maturing into women, wives, and mothers.
The Public Ferrante
But Ferrante is not shy, she maintains a public presence — behind her pen name. She writes a weekly column in The Guardian, mostly personal essays about life, hope, writing — and privacy.
I read My Brilliant Friendwhen I was researchingVesuvius Nights which takes place in contemporary Napoli. Walking the backstreets of Naples this summer, I could almost see Lenu’ and Lila walking home from school, playing in a park, or sitting on a bench, talking about their lives and dreams. Ferrante’s characters last long after you’ve read the last page.
Book 4 in the Neapolitan Series
Ferrante’s final book in the four-book series, The Story of a Lost Child, finds Elena searching for Lila late in life. Her lifelong friend has disappeared and not left notes, letters, or hints about where she is.
Have you read Ferrante?
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read a Ferrante novel and discover her unique story telling talents.
Her writing is superb, she draws you in with prose that is almost haunting. You have to continue reading to follow what is going through Elena’s imaginative and searching mind.
* * * *
In addition to this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.
I’m currently writing a thriller series based in Milan featuring the anti-terrorism police, DIGOS, as they pursue domestic and international terrorists. I travel to Milan every summer for research, to see my Italian and American friends, and to work with my researcher and translator.
If you’d like to receive a free ebook of my first Milan thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, please sign up on the left side bar. I just need your name and email address.
The second book in the series, No One Sleeps, follows DIGOS agents as they track down a sleeper cell of Muslim terrorists in Milan who have received toxic chemicals from Pakistan to make deadly sarin gas.
You can find my ebooks all digital book sites. Paperbacks of Thirteen Days in Milan and No One Sleeps are available at Amazon and independent bookstores around the world. If they’re not in stock, stores can order from Ingram distributors. You should have your book in 3 or 4 days.
Book 3 in the series, Vesuvius Nights, will be published as an ebook in January and a paperback in May 2019. If you’d like to learn more about Italy, travel, and writing, sign up for my email newsletter at my publisher’s web site, RedBrickPress.net or my personal web site jackerickson.com.
I like hearing from readers! Please email me and tell me what you like to read. And please share this site with friends who like to read about travel.