my brilliant friendMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011 fiction)

The first book of the Neapolitan Quartet by Italian author Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend is the story of two girls growing up in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. The girls are mostly friends, but as they compete with each other and pursue different paths, their friendship waxes and wanes. Their lives and stories include family, friends, neighbors and others who populate the poorer area of Naples where they live. Violence is casual and always threatening, creating an unsettling undercurrent. Written in Italian and read in translation, the style of the novel conveys great detail about everyday life at a time and in a place that feels very foreign and far away. Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym. The recent and widely
reported unmasking of the individual behind the pseudonym has been controversial. Many of this popular author’s fans feel strongly that her right to privacy supersedes the public’s right to know. Whoever Elena Ferrante may be, she has written an engaging and compelling
story about growing up in Naples.

Reviewed by Stephanie Dorward