“According to an interview with her publishers in the Italian literary newsletter Il Libraio, translated in The Guardian, Ferrante is putting pen to paper once more.” A year after Elena Ferrante‘s alleged true identity was revealed by a journalist, the intensely-private author is writing again but has no plans to publish a novel in 2018. Pair with: staff writer Marie Myung-Ok Lee‘s essay on Ferrante, privacy, and woman writers.
Finally, some good news: Elena Ferrante is writing again.
Last year, after Ferrante’s identity was allegedly outed by Italian journalist Claudio Gatti — despite her oft-stated desire to remain anonymous — many worried that the pseudonymous author of the Neapolitan novels would never write again. But much like Lila Cerullo taking up arms at Bruno Soccavo’s sausage factory (shoutout to my fellow Ferrante-heads!), your literary girl crush isn’t about to let some silly man crush her spirit.
According to an interview with her publishers in the Italian literary newsletter Il Libraio, translated in The Guardian, Ferrante is putting pen to paper once more. “I know she is writing, but at the moment I cannot say anything more,” revealed publisher Sandro Ferrari, who adds there are no plans for a novel to come out next year.
Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
New work is understood to be a novel separate from TV screenplay writer is working on for adaptation of Neapolitan series
Elena Ferrante is back. And she’s busy.
It has been just over a year since the Italian novelist behind My Brilliant Friend and the rest of the highly acclaimed Neapolitan series was outed by an investigative journalist who claimed to have discovered her true identity.
Since then, fans of Elena Ferrante, who has always written under a pen name, had reason to worry she might not return. In interviews over the years, Ferrante suggested that her anonymity was a vital component of her work. Being unknown, she said, gave her the space and liberty to focus on her writing, free from the “anxiety of notoriety” or the temptation to censor herself.
The investigative journalist Claudio Gatti reported last October that Ferrante’s true name was Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator whose middle-class background differed from that fostered by Elena Ferrante, which more closely resembled the struggling background of her two protagonists. Gatti was criticised for a gross violation of the writer’s privacy and some believed he would be blamed if Ferrante disappeared from public life.
However, a recent interview with Ferrante’s publishers in Il Libraio, an Italian literary newsletter, included one line that could give fans relief: “I know she is writing, but at the moment I cannot say anything more,” said Sandro Ferri, who heads the publishing house Ediozioni E/O with his wife, Sandra Ozzola.
But Ferri said there were no plans for a new Ferrante novel to be published in 2018.
The publishers declined to offer any more details. But the new work is understood to be separate from the screenplay Ferrante is working on for a television series based on the Neapolitan novels, which will air on HBO and the Italian broadcaster RAI.
by Nick Vivarelli
My Brilliant Friend
Rai and HBO have teamed up on this eight-episode adaptation of the first of Elena Ferrante’s four bestselling “Neapolitan Novels” about the deep friendship and rivalry between two inextricably bound women starting in 1950s Naples. Director Saverio Costanzo directs; series is co-produced by Fandango and FremantleMedia, which is also handling international distribution.
by Nick Vivarelli
After churning out pedestrian shows for decades, Italian state broadcaster Rai is making a major push into the global TV arena thanks to a more ambitious mindset that has spawned high-end hit “Medici: Masters of Florence,” and will soon see series “My Brilliant Friend” and “The Name of the Rose” compete for audiences around the world.
As Italian high-end content becomes a hot international commodity thanks to groundbreaking shows such as Sky’s “Gomorrah” and “The Young Pope,” the pubcaster that produces roughly 70% of Italian TV fiction is ready to seize the moment. Rai is putting its own creative stamp on the country’s high-end TV output and fueling a burst of vibrancy in Italy’s TV community.
In a related break with the past, Rai is also venturing into bold business models by teaming up with Netflix on the streaming giant’s first Italian original, “Suburra,” and with HBO on “My Brilliant Friend,” which is based on the first of the four “Neapolitan Novels” by Elena Ferrante. “Friend” will mark HBO’s first completely subtitled project.
“Rai, like all other European public service broadcasters, has had to rethink its role, faced with a changing market which is increasingly global,” says Eleonora Andreatta, who heads its Rai Fiction unit. “It had to think about its identity as a great content producer. And that identity is to focus on Italian creativity, Italian culture, history and tradition.”
The first project of this new Rai era is the English-language “Medici,” which sold widely, including to Netflix for the U.S., after scoring stellar ratings locally on its Rai 1 flagship channel. Framed as a thriller, the first season, toplining Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) as well as Dustin Hoffman, played well domestically with younger viewers who are not typically Rai 1’s core demographic and became the most tweeted series of 2016 in Italy.
When “Medici” debuted, Andrea Scrosati, who is in charge of content for Sky in Italy — a Rai rival — tweeted that this was a success for the entire TV industry.
“It was a fresh approach to a story that I think a lot of Italians think they know, but probably don’t know as well as they imagine,” showrunner Frank Spotnitz says.
The second season of “Medici,” toplining Sean Bean, started shooting in September in Tuscany with Jon Cassar (“24”) and Itay’s Jan Michelini sharing directorial duties. It will “mix historical drama with a coming-of-age tale,” says Andreatta.
Cameras start rolling in October on “Brilliant Friend,” being shot by Italian auteur Saverio Costanzo on the outskirts of Naples. The entire neighborhood of Gianturco, where Ferrante’s novel is set, has been meticulously rebuilt for the series. The show will be in the Neapolitan dialect.
It was easy to get Rai and HBO to agree to board this project “because they both understood that there were enough elements within these novels to make them a big success both on Rai1 and HBO,” says Lorenzo Mieli, head of Fremantle Italy, which is producing in tandem with Domenico Procacci’s Fandango.
Andreatta, who calls Ferrante’s work “one of the most powerful and universal stories of female friendship,” says Rai “felt very strongly” that it “belongs to the realm of what European public service television does.” She admits that airing it in primetime on Rai 1, in a drastic departure from the more mainstream local dramas that have been Rai’s staples for ages, will be a gamble, but believes that the Italian TV audience “is a lot more willing to be challenged and stimulated than what we used to think.”
“The Name of the Rose,” which will start shooting at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios in January, co-produced with Wild Bunch TV, is a further indication of Rai’s new international course — “Stories that don’t just belong to Italy, but to the world,” as Andreatta puts it. Italy’s Giacomo Battiato will direct the eight-episode English-language TV adaptation of Umberto Eco’s bestseller.
“There is lots of curiosity and attention toward Italian TV,” says one of the “Rose” producers, Carlo Degli Esposti. “For the first time we are finding that Rai is receptive and becoming a very important driver to provide the oxygen to develop the Italian market’s firepower.”
I’d like to get to Elena Ferrante’s books if possible too.
The busier you get, the harder it can be to find time to read. We bet no one knows this more than Hillary Clinton, which is why we were thrilled when Clinton listed all the books she’s been reading since November.
Though we’re positive Hillary would rather be running the country right now, the former democratic presidential nominee has enjoyed herself the last few months. “After this election, one of the things that helped me most, aside from long walks in the woods and the occasional glass of chardonnay, was once again going back to the familiar experience of losing myself in books,” she said during her speech at the American Library Association.
That’s a beautiful feeling, and one we should take more time to experience ourselves. Even post-election, we’re no doubt less busy than Hillary Clinton.
“I finished Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I devoured mysteries by Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd,” she said, adding, “I reread old favorites like Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I was riveted by The Jersey Brothers and a new book of essays called The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate.”
We should all aspire to read as she reads, so here’s your Hillary Clinton-approved summer reading list:
1. Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels
The wonderful thing about being a reader is that even when you’re familiar with the classics of English literature, there are still bookshelves all over the world to explore. These writers, featured in Radio 4’s Reading Europe series, are some of the most famous novelists in their own countries – but the rest of the world has yet to discover them.
Here’s why you should read them.
Italy: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Ferrante fever has been sweeping Europe for the past few years, and reached a fever pitch when journalist Claudio Gatti claimed to have “unmasked” the reclusive author. However, fans remain more interested in her novels than her life stories. In My Brilliant Friend, we’re introduced to Elena and Lila, whose friendship is one of the most believable in fiction – they’re not braiding each other’s hair at sleepovers, they’re jealously competing to escape the neighbourhood of Naples and trying to avoid the attentions of local gangsters.
Look out for: Lila’s wedding – it’s so tense and troubling that it makes the wedding sequence in The Godfather look like it was guest directed by Richard Curtis.
by Britt Julious
(…) “It’s kind of just instinct,” Cardoza says about her songwriting process. “I take inspiration from a lot of things like my personal life for sure. It’s definitely a release.” Cardoza writes the lyrics after the music has been composed by her bandmates. On recent tracks she’s drawn inspiration from politics, current events, even Elena Ferrante novels.
Rumpus: In Lucky You, there are tidbits of information about the characters’ pasts. There are time gaps between sections. There is a lot that goes unspoken. This seems to require you, as the author, to have a lot of trust in the reader. Can you talk a bit about this relationship of trust between author and reader?
Carter: When I was writing this, I had no agent or publisher, and was far from even thinking about having readers. So, that was freeing, because I wasn’t trying to please anyone. It’s interesting now, though, because I’m writing my second book, and I’m still not trying to please anyone—I feel like I’m just writing what has to be said, in the best way I know how to say it.
Lucky You is definitely not for everyone, but I would never want to write a book for everyone. I’d like to quote Elena Ferrante here, from her interview with the Paris Review, on this subject:
I employ all the strategies I know to capture the reader’s attention, stimulate curiosity, make the page as dense as possible and as easy as possible to turn. But once I have the reader’s attention I feel it is my right to pull it in whichever direction I choose. I don’t think the reader should be indulged as a consumer, because he isn’t one. Literature that indulges the tastes of the reader is a degraded literature. My goal is to disappoint the usual expectations and inspire new ones.
The second season of Younger, the TV Land sitcom that follows Liza (Sutton Foster), a 40-year-old recently divorced mother who pretends to be a 26-year-old in order to land a job in publishing, has been … mostly pretty good. But five episodes into the season, there’s been less publishing stuff and more “Liza getting existential about the whole pretending-to-be-a-millennial thing while also being clearly set up for a love triangle (which is also a metaphor for her existential crisis) with her super-hot tattoo-artist boyfriend and her slightly less hot but still pretty hot in a Sears-model-kind-of-way boss.”
Anyway, this season’s publishing storyline is decidedly less delicious than last season’s, which featured Thorbjørn Harr as a more corporate Karl Ove Knausgaard. Instead, the Younger writers have introduced a Cat Marnell stand-in and an imprint run by Hilary Duff’s character aimed at millennials. (It’s called Millennial Press.) This plotline is fine, but not filled with enough publishing world in-jokes.
Season 2 of Younger should drink from the same well as Season 1 and bring in a pseudonymous, Elena Ferrante-like foreign author who lands a deal with Empirical Press, and Liza is entrusted with protecting her identity. Liza should be great at this, since she’s a pro at hiding her identity—only Liza screws it up due to [millennial stuff]. Younger has given us Knausgaard, and now it must give us Ferrante.
Yesterday, the Cut reported that during a speech at the American Library Association conference, Hillary Clinton listed all of the books she’s been reading with her unexpected time off since November, saying that besides for going on hikes and drinking white wine (relatable), she’s been consoling herself by “going back to the familiar experience of losing myself in books.” As such, there are lots of novels and mystery stories and some uplifting poetry, all of which we’ve gathered below.
My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One by Elena Ferrante
A complete breakdown of the whodunits, sagas & poetry volumes helping the former Secretary of State through this difficult time
There are many admirable qualities about former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and her penchant for reading (not just the news and briefings) is one of them. Now that she a bit more free time on her hands, without having to run an entire campaign and all that, she’s seized the opportunity by revisiting old favorites and and discovering a few new books, too. Yesterday, at the American Library Association conference, Clinton indulged the audience with how she likes to spend her free time these days, giving a very relatable answer of drinking wine, hiking, and reading. Sounds about right. She also listed a number of books that have made their way across her nightstand of late, so keep adding to your summer reading lists because she’s named some good ones, and let’s be honest, you want to form a book club with Hillary Clinton. Two glasses of wine in, think of the stories.
1. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
Clinton said that she finished all four of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which revolve around two female friends who grow up in post-war Italy, and which detail the coming-of-age of not only a strong relationship but of a city and a country. Also focusing on themes such as class and power, these books definitely sound right up our former Secretary of State’s alley. And everyone’s, frankly. There’s a reason why they’re an international sensation.
June 27, 2017
Hillary Clinton has some unexpected free time on her hands these days, and as she told the audience at the American Library Association conference on Tuesday, she’s been filling it with things like hikes, white wine, and reading.The former presidential candidate said that after her election loss, one of the ways she found solace was by “going back to the familiar experience of losing myself in books.”
Then she ticked off what she’s read since November: “I finished Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I devoured mysteries by Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd,” she said. She continued, “I reread old favorites like Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I was riveted by The Jersey Brothers and a new book of essays called The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate.” (The last is a self-published book of essays by Missouri-based journalist Sarah Kendzior.)
Congratulations to Hillary, who now has more time to read than a person who lives in Washington Heights and commutes to Ditmas Park.
She deserves a break after…well, her entire career.
ROME – France Televisions and Italy’s RAI have joined forces to co-produce a wide range of high-end English-language content for global distribution – including TV dramas, documentaries, animation series and entertainment formats – in a strategic pact meant to counter the growing force of U.S. streaming services in Europe.
Top executives from the two state broadcasters said at a Rome press conference Wednesday that the growth of Netflix and Amazon brought them together in this wide-ranging co-production partnership. France Televisions managing director Xavier Couture even suggested that the pact could be a possible first step of a broader alliance of European pubcasters to counter SVOD juggernauts from the U.S. and elsewhere.
“These players from the U.S., such as Netflix and Amazon, are very powerful, and they all have stories to tell that are not our own,” Couture said in his prepared remarks.
“But Europe is the most powerful cultural region in the world. We can counter them together,” he added.
The France Televisions exec went on to note that “we are the first [members] of a big family that must be the European family of cultural television,” which could include other pubcasters as partners in the future.
In a similar vein, RAI managing director Mario Orfeo noted that “the world of media and television is coming under very strong competition, especially by global players that have more resources.”
“It’s therefore important that RAI, after its agreements with [Franco-German publicly funded network] Arte and [Swiss pubcaster] RSI, forges this alliance,” he said.
Projects in the pipeline are being rigorously kept under wraps, but Variety understands that they include a drama on the origins and expansion of the Mafia, a high-profile documentary on Pompeii, and an animation series set in France.
The agreement between France Televisions and RAI is unusual if not unprecedented because the two prominent pubcasters will develop content together through an ongoing active collaboration between their respective production departments and also single networks. Details about how much each broadcaster will be investing were not disclosed.
Rai accounts for around 70% of Italian TV drama funding. France Televisions also spends hundreds of millions of euros a year on original drama. But both need to make more high-end product as local audiences become more sophisticated thanks to pay-TV and streaming offerings and international sales become crucial to recoup costs.
Couture said that the high-end content that France and Italy would be producing would be English-language “in order to be able to compete on the global market.”
RAI recently made a foray in the international TV arena as a major co-financer of “Medici” and also has crime show “Suburra” in the works, in an unusual partnership with Netflix, as well as a series based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling novel “My Brilliant Friend” co-financed with HBO. France Televisions is especially strong in documentaries and animation for the international market.