Friday, January 25th, 2013

Get On The Elena Ferrante Bandwagon

A little late to this, but James Wood's recent praise in the New Yorker for Italian author Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend is absolutely correct, and you should run out and buy the book immediately. DO NOT allow the scary and off-putting fact that it opens with an index of characters to intimidate you. I should also mention, even though it is pretty superficial, that the book (and all of Ferrante's English translations thus far; I think she was their inaugural author) is published by Europa Editions, who are putting out some of the most interesting titles around in one of the most elegant and simply-designed formats. (Yes, I still read book books; I cannot vouch for their e-whatevers, but these paperbacks are gorgeous. You're, like, happy to have them in your hand.) Anyway, are you looking for something that you can only put down when you have to look away in the shame and horror of recognition? Elena Ferrante's for you! It's going to be such a shame when we find out she's actually Roberto Calasso or someone.

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Europa is great. Other (non-NYRB, ND, Dalkey, Archipelago) presses:
1. Sylph Editions
2. Pushkin Press
3. Twisted Spoon Press
4. Telegram Books
5. Atlas Press
6. Other Press
7. Seagull Books

Can't go wrong.

LondonLee (#922)

I'll always love Europa for publishing 'Old Filth' by Jane Gardam. Read that thing three times now.

I find it fascinating that the "Elena Ferrante bandwagon" phenomenon has come to the surface in the United States only after the publication of her new trilogy, "My Brilliant Friend," which is also the most palatable of her works so far. Why is it that her previous three novels did not captivate America's literary (and critical) imagination? Is America's reader a tad too prudish for her visceral and at times openly stomach-turning exploration of femininity – pregnancy, parturition, and motherhood included?

RogerPaul (#247,902)

I wasn't as impressed with her work. I find it difficult to follow when I have a large cast of characters that I am trying to keep up with. I put the book down and come back to it the next day and have already forgot who-was-who!

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