Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend

I am about three years behind the times, but what a phenomenal novel.  Very small in its subject, the childhood friendship of two girls, from about ten to sixteen, growing up in Naples in the 1950s, the book nevetheless feels expansive.  You feel like you could step into the neighborhood and know where the Cerullo shoe store is and what you would see in the window.  Ferrante manages the sociology and psychology of adolescence (of the country, of the characters) very nicely.  The English translation by Ann Goldstein is perfect, not a false phrase in the whole book.  The story is told in the first person, as if a later Lenu were accessing her memories, but filtering them inevitably because she knows what was to come.  (Which the reader does not know.)

The book closes with the wedding of Lila, so here is Lazzarella by Domenico Modugno:

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
This entry was posted in Book and film reviews. Bookmark the permalink.