Elena Ferrante is out with a new book, released in Italy last week: La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti (which translates as The Lying Life of Adults). Ahead of the release last week, special reading sessions were organized in several cities and the day the novel was out, November 7, some bookstores stayed open late so fans could buy the awaited novel by the wildly successful and mysterious writer whose identity has never been disclosed.
[Note for English readers: the English-language version will not be published until June next year.]
Like the four best-selling novels that made Ferrante famous, the Neapolitan Quartet that includes My Brilliant Friend, the new novel is also set in Naples, albeit in a very different neighborhood, the middle-class Vomero. The underlying themes however remain the same: abandonment, tormented family ties, friendship, the disorientation of growing, the resurfacing of the past.
Again, as in My Brilliant Friend, the protagonist is also the narrator, and again it is a female voice. This time the story is told by adolescent Giovanna, who, born in 1979, recounts the years she was between 12 and 16 years old.
Europa Editions, Ferrante’s English-language publisher, released the first few sentences of the new book: “Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath…”
That sentence, eavesdropped through a door left open by mistake, marks the end of the innocence of childhood and sets the course of Giovanna’s adolescence. The story develops like a long flashback.
The quartet of Neapolitan novels sold 12 million copies and were translated in more than 50 languages; there was even a TV series produced by HBO and Rai that was aired last year (Ferrante’s novels have been very successful in the United States).
While the identity of Ferrante has never been revealed as per the author’s wish, an investigation by Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper claimed Ferrante’s real name is Anita Raja, who is a Rome-based translator for the publishing house Edizioni e/o, her novels’ publisher.