Reading vigils held for release of authors first novel in four years, set in 1990s Naples

Reading vigils are being held across Italy as fans of Elena Ferrante gather for the release of the authors new book, her first novel in four years.

Ferrantes Italian publisher, Edizioni E/O, was careful not to give too much away, issuing only a short extract in early September indicating the story takes place in Naples, the same setting for her phenomenally successful quartet of books that began with My Brilliant Friend.

The title La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti, which translates roughly as The Lying Life of Adults was revealed last week and a small group of journalists received an encrypted PDF copy at 1am on Tuesday, giving them little time to read and review the 336-page book.

Elena
Elena Ferrante – La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti

We were told it would take five to six hours, so as soon as I received the email I started reading and wrote an initial online review at dawn, Riccardo De Palo, a culture writer for Il Messaggero, told the Guardian.

The book contains an atmosphere and themes that are typical of Ferrante, for example the relationship between a father and daughter, between women, between boys and girls, and friendship. And much like her other books, it is written in an accessible way.

Reviews so far have shed some light on the story and pondered once again the authors identity Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym.

Set in the 1990s, the book is about a girl growing up in a leftwing family from an affluent area of Naples, a far cry from Rione Luzzatti, the rundown neighbourhood where the Neapolitan series is believed to have been set. The child overhears her father describe his daughter as very ugly during an argument with her mother, a comment that sets the course of her adolescence.

As Ferrante fever mounted, reading sessions were arranged in cities including Turin, Rome, Milan and Naples. More than 100 people signed up to the Turin event, organised by those behind the citys international book fair.

When Elena Ferrante published her first book, Troubling Love, she became a cult author, attracting a small group of readers, said Nicola Lagioia, an author and director of the international book fair. But after My Brilliant Friend, the following in Italy became huge.

The Italian version of My Brilliant Friend, which told the story of the lifelong friendship and rivalry between two women, was published in 2011, before being translated by Ann Goldstein and published a year later by Ferrantes English-language publisher, Europa Editions. The other three novels followed suit, with the series selling more than 10m copies around the world, 1.5m in Italy.

The first novel was adapted into a HBO/RAI/TIMvision TV series in 2018, and a stage play opens at the National Theatre in London on Tuesday.

Goldstein is translating the latest book, although English-speaking fans will have to wait until June next year for its release.

Nowhere is anticipation more fervent than in Naples, the complex but fascinating southern city that has drawn thousands of Ferrante fans in recent years and boosted its image.

I have a feeling that the phenomenon is bigger abroad than it is in Italy, said Laura Della Pietra, an avid fan who grew up in Rione Luzzatti. People have been coming from all over the world. Ferrante talks about simple things that can be recognised by everyone.

Ferrante also inspired the journalist Sophia Rose Seymour to set up a tour business, Looking for Lila.

The very aspects of the Naples visitors once feared, Ferrante has deconstructed and turned into something of intrigue, said Seymour.

As the novel hits Italian bookshops, intrigue over the authors identity will no doubt amplify. In 2016, the investigative journalist Claudio Gatti caused a storm in the literary world after claiming to unmask Ferrante as Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator who once helped run a publishing imprint of Italian writers.

Gatti was criticised for a gross violation of the writers privacy and some believed he would be blamed if Ferrante disappeared from public life. In interviews over the years, Ferrante suggested her anonymity was a vital component of her work.

This has been something that has interested professionals more than readers, and only started after My Brilliant Friend, said Lagioia. Maybe the questioning will continue but it has never been something that has interested me I am for the work produced, not the authors.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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