Who is Elena Ferrante?

Like many, over the past few months I’ve become obsessed by Elena Ferrante, the Italian author of the Neapolitan series, which includes My Brilliant Friend. I’ve just finished the third book and I’m excited but also reluctant to move onto the fourth and final. What will I do when I’ve finished them?

There are still three of Ferrante’s standalone books toread, and I’m looking forward to them – but I know that I shall mourn the loss of Lina and Lila when I finish.

As I’m about to move onto the final book, I was delighted to discover that Ferrante has just been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 for said book, The Story of the Lost Child.

In my previous post, Falling for Elena Ferrante, I wrote about how much I admired the author for staying anonymous and how in this age of social media overshare, it’s refreshing for an author to stay away and keep quiet, and yet still receive global acclaim. Of course, rather than just being an author who stays away from social media, she is an author that nobody knows. She is an author of which there is no photo at the back of her books or on her website. She is an author who nobody knows what she looks or sounds like.

In the interview that I previously linked it, Ferrante mentioned that she believed that once the book was out,t he story had been told and had no need of her, it’s author anymore, which is one reason why she chooses to stay anonymous.

While reading Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave I was struck by this quote in particular, spoken by the narrator’s friend, Lila.

“Each of us narrates our own lives as it suits us.”

Source: page 237,Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante

It is a phrase that rings true for all of us, especially now in this age of social media. We can choose what we tell people and the way that we tell it. We can edit our lives, we can believe what we want to about the way that we live, and the choices that we make. And this is a line that seems to reflect the author’s choices as well. Written in the third book, by which time the books were a success, the author seems to reflect her own choices in the words of the character.

As the main character has Ferrante’s first name, it is easy for a reader to assume that perhaps Ferrante is trying to tell her story – or at least an element of it. It is curious that juxtaposition – of knowing nothing about the author and so pinning the character’s identity onto her. How much is the story meant to reflect reality? It is curious to wonder, and of course, these are questions that will lie unanswered for a long time to come.

I wonder how, if the book picks up the prize at the Man Booker International Awards (which I sincerely hope that it is), the situation will be handled. Who will be there – if anyone to accept the award?

I hope the intrigue long continues – and I look forward to finishing the series – and embarking on Ferrante’s other work.

Have you read any of Elena Ferrante’s work? Let me know in the comments!

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