June: My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (ITALY)
Translated by Ann Goldstein
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.
“Ferrante’s novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker
“One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory.”
—Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“Amazing! My Brilliant Friend took my breath away. If I were president of the world I would make everyone read this book. It is so honest and right and opens up heart to so much. Reading Ferrante reminded me of that child-like excitement when you can’t look up from the page, when your eyes seem to be popping from your head, when you think: I didn’t know books could do this!”
—Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge
Elena Ferrante is the author of The Days of Abandonment (Europa, 2005), Troubling Love (Europa, 2006), The Lost Daughter (Europa, 2008), and the international best-selling novel in four installments known as the Neapolitan Quartet (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child, Europa 2012-2015). She is also the author of Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey, a children’s picture book illustrated by Mara Cerri, The Beach at Night, and, most recently, a collection of essays entitled Incidental Inventions (Europa, 2019).