When the temperature and timing are right, some reading experiences can feel like fever dreams; narrative immersions that keep you up late into the night and transport you across oceans and decades. Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels – My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2015) and The Story of the Lost Child (2016) – have had this effect on millions of readers worldwide. Fifty pages pass in an instant as you follow Lina and Lenù on their path to adulthood in post-war Naples, each intent on escaping the burden of expectation.
Our 36th reader is a devoted follower of Ferrante’s work, and has a profound familial connection to the novels’ setting as a third-generation Italian-Canadian. We sat down for a cathartic conversation about the novels’ impact on her life, the author’s multi-dimensional representation of Italian women, legacies of violence, the paralysis of self-doubt, Lila and Lenù’s complicated friendship, and the importance of careful translation.
Messenger of Truth – Jacqueline Winspear