FIRST OFFICIAL IMAGES FROM THE HBO, RAI FICTION AND TIMVISION SERIES MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, DIRECTED BY SAVERIO COSTANZO, ARE RELEASED

Show Is Based On The First Book Of Elena Ferrante’s Bestselling Quadrilogy

An HBO-RAI FICTION And TIMVISION Production;
Produced By Lorenzo Mieli And Mario Gianani For Wildside And
By Domenico Procacci For Fandango
In Co-Production With Umedia Production

With production underway in Caserta, Italy, the first official images from the HBO, RAI FICTION and TIMVISION series MY BRILLIANT FRIEND have been released. Based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling book of the same name, which is the first of her four-part series published in the U.S. by Europa Editions, the eight-episode series is being directed by Saverio Costanzo (“Private,” “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” “Hungry Hearts”).

Casting for the show took place over a period of eight months, with almost 9,000 children and 500 adults from all over Campania auditioning. The casting process included professional and non-professional actors, as well as students recruited from local schools. Newcomers Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti were chosen to portray the two lead roles of Elena and Lila as young children.

As production on the series progresses, these young actresses have given way to teenage actresses Margherita Mazzucco as Elena and Gaia Girace as Lila. In total, MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is expected to include a cast of more than 150 actors and 5,000 extras.

The production’s construction team of 150 crew members has created 215,000 square feet of sets, which were built over 100 days. To recreate the neighborhood, the symbolic location of the story, they built 14 exterior apartment buildings, five interior sets of apartments, a church and a tunnel. The costume department is gathering 1,500 costumes, many of which are original creations.

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is an HBO, RAI FICTION and TIMVISION series, produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani for Wildside and by Domenico Procacci for Fandango in co-production with Umedia Production. All episodes will be directed by Saverio Costanzo. Story and screenplays by Elena Ferrante, Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and Saverio Costanzo. Jennifer Schuur is the executive producer. FremantleMedia International will act as the international distributor.

Read full article

Viet Thanh Nguyen is reading The Neapolitan Novels

“If I read a book by a man, then the next one should be by a woman. That’s not exactly a chore. For example, I’m reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, It’s an amazing work. I’m listening to her book on audio.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for his best-selling novel, “The Sympathizer,” the story of a Communist double agent who moves to the United States. Last year Nguyen, who emigrated with his family from Vietnam when he was four, published his first collection of short stories, “The Refugees.”

Read full article

Naples: Elena Ferrante’s brilliant city – The Guardian

Fans of the writer’s Neapolitan novels are flocking to discover the south Italian city, whose personality is as important to the books as the protagonists

Lisa O’Kelly

Sun 25 Feb 2018 07.00 GMT

Like many tourists in Naples, I have only ever been there en route to somewhere else. For years the city has had a reputation for being dirty, dangerous and traffic-choked: why on earth would anyone choose to linger? But this has changed. Naples is becoming a destination in its own right, thanks in part to the huge popularity of the enigmatic author Elena Ferrante. And with the city’s rubbish-collection problem solved and new traffic restrictions in the centre, it is looking in better shape than it has done for decades.

Ferrante, who writes under a pseudonym, is the most important literary sensation to have emerged from Italy in a generation. Her quartet of Neapolitan Novels has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide. The New York Times observed that enthusiasm for the novels is so intense that it is being described in “epidemiological terms, making the phenomenon sound almost like an infectious disease”. Nor is Ferrante fever likely to cool any time soon: an Italian/American television adaptation of the first book My Brilliant Friend is under way. Filming starts in Naples next spring. The ultimate aim is to adapt all four novels over 32 episodes.

I came late to the books, prompted to pick up the first volume by the outrage around Italian reporter Claudio Gatti’s controversial unmasking of Ferrante’s supposed true identity. Needless to say, I loved My Brilliant Friend and devoured the next three, gripped by Ferrante’s rich portrait of the hard lives and intense friendship of the two protagonists – Elena and Raffaella (who call each other Lenù and Lila) – who grow up in a poor, violent neighbourhood against a background of mafia vendettas and social and political unrest in the 1960s and 70s.

We stop at a traditional pastry shop like the one run by the Solara brothers for a coffee and a sfogliatella
Naples is as much a character in Ferrante’s writing as Lenù and Lila themselves. Her “dark streets full of dangers, unregulated traffic, broken pavements, giant puddles … clogged sewers” work their way deep into your imagination. So you finish the Neapolitan novels not only with a sigh of regret, but an insistent desire to get to know the city for yourself.

“People began asking hotels and tour operators in the area: ‘How can we find the locations in the novels?’” says Caterina dei Vivo of Progetto Museo, a Naples-based cultural heritage preservation group. “They wanted to see the stradone, the Vomero, the Rettifilo, the Corso Umberto.” Progetto Museo quickly launched a Ferrante tour of the city earlier this year and several others have jumped on board since then.

I decided to combine my tour with a few nights in Sorrento. A picturesque tumble of dark red villas and ochre hotels perched on the edge of the Bay of Naples, the town works as a base not only for visits to the city – about 50 minutes away by boat, or an hour by train – but for the Amalfi coastal path (the “pathway of the gods”), Campania’s hillside towns and the islands of Capri and Ischia, too. Pompeii and Heculaneum are an easy train ride away.

I was met off the boat from Sorrento by the impressively qualified Caterina, a Neapolitan with a PhD in the preservation of cultural heritage. Along with the two others in our group, I was keen to visit the working-class neighbourhood where Lenù and Lila grow up: the Rione Luzzatti in the south of the city. Frustratingly, Caterina won’t take us there. Now mainly social housing, it has a reputation for crime and is apparently “too sad and depressing” for us. Instead, we set off into the old city where our first stop was Corso Umberto, known locally as the Rettifilo. This is the main street connecting the rione [administrative district] with the city, where Lenù and Lila first start going out alone with friends – with disastrous consequences one night when the Solara brothers pick a vicious fight with some obnoxious private school boys. It is also home to the bridal shops visited by 16-year-old Lila as she prepared for her lavish wedding to Stefano Carracci. Every window is awash with frothy white lace and rainbow-coloured bridesmaids’ dresses.

Three sheets to the wind … a backstreet in Spaccanapoli. Photograph: Alamy
We turn left into the university district where Lenù found her first job in a bookshop and Nino, the love of her life, worked as a leftwing lecturer. As in the books, the lecture theatres are daubed with radical slogans – a “lotta dura” [a 60s political slogan, now more associated with football] here, a hammer and sickle there and students hand out revolutionary flyers to passersby. Next stop is Via dei Tribunale, where Lenù attended political meetings with her friends in the Red Brigades. We stop at a traditional pastry shop like the one run by the Solara brothers in the novels for a coffee and a sfogliatella, a shell-shaped pastry which originated in Naples, filled with vanilla, cinnamon and orange-flavoured ricotta.

The city centre feels wonderfully unmodernised, its dark, narrow streets dripping with faded laundry, lucky bunches of dried red chillies outside every house and shop front. Walls are buried beneath layers of posters, stickers, graffiti and grime. Scooters zoom past, horns blare and truck brakes hiss. I’m struck by the absence of chains, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s. Caterina says the multinationals know they cannot compete with the street food of Naples: fried pizza, potato croquettes, courgette flowers in batter, fried anchovies and fried mozzarella are sold on every corner in brown paper cones – cuoppo – for just a few euros apiece. Pungent Neapolitan coffee likewise.

 

 

Full article

Ferrante Scores in Germany, France – Publishers Weekly

By Jim Milliot | Feb 23, 2018

Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child landed in the top spot in France at the end of January and was in second place on Germany’s bestseller list last month. The novel was published in the U.S. in fall 2015 by Europa Editions.

At the end of last month, Still Me by JoJo Moyes was in first place in Germany; the novel has been at the top of PW’s charts as well since its release in early January. Bernhard Schlink’s newest novel, Olga, was in third place on the bestseller list. Schlink had a huge hit in the U.S. in 1995 with The Reader, and his most recent book released in America was The Woman on the Stairs, which Pantheon published last March.

Back in France, two new books followed Lost Child on the fiction list. In second place was Prix Goncourt–winner Pierre Lemaitre with his latest, The Colors of Fire. In the third spot was And Me, I Still Live by Jean d’ Ormesson, the highly respected French novelist of more than 40 books and member of the Académie Française, who died in December.

Two nonfiction titles led the combined bestseller list in the Netherlands in January: Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and A Retrospective of 2017 by Han van Bree. Dan Brown’s Origin was in fifth place. (Origin was also #2 in Spain, #3 in Sweden in fiction, and #4 on Italy’s combined list.)

Full article

Love Letters to Authors – Elena Ferrante – Tattered Cover

Dear Elena,

Many love you because you’re unavailable. Despite international acclaim, you have firmly chosen to remain out of the public eye, concealing your true identity and writing under a pseudonym. You choose this in part because, as you’ve said, “Books, once they are written, have no need of their authors.” How can we not be intrigued and seduced by you?

Your Neapolitan novels focus on the lives of two girls, Lenu, our narrator, and her brilliant friend, Lila. Both grow up poor in Naples, Italy during the aftermath of WWII. The books follow the pair’s divergent paths to adulthood; one becomes upwardly mobile through education and the other struggles for autonomy and a better life in their poor neighborhood. The book is just as much about the shifting political, economic, and cultural forces at play in Italy during this period. These potentially intimidating themes are brought back to earth by delivering them through the lives and experiences of the two extraordinary characters and their evolving relationship.

Your work is enormous in its scope and deeply layered, while still managing to be relatable. The Neapolitan Novels are about the nuances of friendship and intimacy between women as much as they’re about the epic struggle for autonomy and agency in a deeply unequal and shifting society. You have written a book that is unsentimental yet has a great, bursting heart, a series that explores the light and dark of friendship and the machinations of power. You capture the intense interior experiences of living in a society that works to confine you, and you also beautifully articulate the divine rage and rebellion which seethes within those subject to these oppressive experiences. You have written a ‘serious’ piece of literature with cover art that is unapologetically feminine.

Elena Ferrante, I love you because your work is transcendent. You defy definition and you irreverently rebel against attempts to categorize your writing. You gave me a new understanding of what art can be.

— Colleen

 

Source

The Guardian

Author of bestselling Neapolitan novels says she was keen to test herself with the ‘bold, anxious exercise’ of writing regular pieces for the magazine

Elena Ferrante, the bestselling Italian novelist of the highly acclaimed Neapolitan series, is to write her first ever regular newspaper column, in the Guardian.

The pseudonymous author’s return to writing, a year after an investigative journalist controversially claimed to have revealed her real identity, will be welcomed by fans anxious to see her next move. Ferrante has always said that her anonymity was important to her work, freeing her from the “anxiety of notoriety”.

Now, in her weekly column for the Guardian’s Weekend magazine, Ferrante will share her thoughts on a wide range of topics, including childhood, ageing, gender and, in her debut article, first love. Ferrante said she was “attracted to the possibility of testing myself” with a regular column, and called the experience “a bold, anxious exercise in writing”. The column will be translated by Ferrante’s regular collaborator Ann Goldstein.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Elena Ferrante on her first newspaper column – a new adventure for her and for Guardian Weekend magazine,” said editor Melissa Denes. “Every week, she will be writing a personal piece, covering subjects from sex to ageing to the things that make her laugh. We can’t wait to see where she will take us.”

Ferrante’s books, particularly her Neapolitan series, have been bestsellers among English readers since the first volume, My Brilliant Friend, was translated in 2012. Narrated by a woman called Elena – or Lenu – the series follows her life and that of her friend Lila as they rebel against the poor and stultifying Naples neighbourhood they grew up in. The three novels that followed – The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015) – have all made bestseller charts around the world. Frantumaglia, a collection of the author’s essays and letters, was released in 2016.

She is also currently working on the screenplay for a television adaptation of My Brilliant Friend for HBO.

Ferrante was named one of the world’s most influential people in 2016 by Time magazine, and was one of the highest-earning literary novelists in the UK in 2017, despite not releasing a new book that year.

The Guardian’s Weekend magazine has been redesigned as part of the newspaper’s move to tabloid format, with the first new-look issue appearing on 20 January.

The Telegraph

Elena Ferrante among biggest selling authors of 2017

by 

David Walliams was the biggest-selling author of 2017, overtaking JK Rowling with sales of more than £16 million from his children’s books.

The writer and television presenter outsold fellow children’s authors Julia Donaldson and Philip Pullman, thriller writers James Patterson and Dan Brown, and TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry.

Walliams published his first book for children in 2008 and has been billed as the successor to Roald Dahl. His two most recent books, The World’s Worst Children and Bad Dad, helped boost his sales by almost 20 per cent on the previous year.

He sold £16.57 million worth of books in 2017. Rowling came second in the list with sales of £15.47 million, as readers continued to lap up her Harry Potter books.

Donaldson was third with sales of £14.65 million, followed by Jamie Oliver on £11.44 million and Lee Child on £7.5 million.

The figures, compiled by Nielsen BookScan and published by The Bookseller, also showed that women dominated literary fiction sales last year.

Nine out of the 10 best-selling literary authors were female, with Haruki Murakami the only male.

Margaret Atwood topped the list with sales of £2.76 million, boosted by the Netflix adaptation of her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Helen Dunmore, who died last summer, was second in the list, followed by Sarah Perry, author of the runaway bestseller The Essex Serpent.

Naomi Alderman, Elena Ferrante, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Maggie O’Farrell and Arundhati Roy completed the top 10, edging out Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and the Nobel Prize winner, Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Guardian

Female writers dominated 2017’s literary bestsellers, figures show

Flying in the face of Norman Mailer’s infamous comment that “a good novelist can do without everything but the remnant of his balls”, Haruki Murakami was the sole male writer to make the Top 10 bestselling literary authors of 2017 in the UK.

The Bookseller’s analysis of literary fiction book sales last year found that Margaret Atwood was the bestselling literary novelist of the year, with television adaptations of her novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace pushing her sales up to almost £2.8m.

Sarah Perry, author of the award-winning The Essex Serpent, came in second with sales of around £1.6m. Helen Dunmore, who died last June but had a novel, The Birdcage Walk, and poetry collection, Inside the Wave, published in 2017, came in third, with sales of around £1.1m. The rest of the top five were Naomi Alderman, whose novel The Power won the Women’s prize for fiction, and Italian author Elena Ferrante, author of the acclaimed Neapolitan series.

Murakami, with sales of around £1m, came sixth, with the list completed by Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Maggie O’Farrell and Arundhati Roy.

The Bookseller’s Tom Tivnan admitted that the analysts were “making somewhat arbitrary value judgments about what is ‘literary’, and have limited ourselves to those who have been major award winners and/or shortlistees”. But he pointed out that both Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan failed to make the Top 10, each bringing in sales worth £855,000, along with the new Nobel literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, whose books made just over £709,000 in 2017.

Speaking on Wednesday, after just one publisher, the independent press And Other Stories, answered her call to publish only women in 2018, Shamsie said: “The list of writers on [the Bookseller’s] list is a reminder that literary fiction’s most beloved women writers are second to no one in terms of the quality of their work.”

But Shamsie, whose novel Home Fire was longlisted for the Man Booker prize and shortlisted for the Costa prize, added that “the list also underscores the bias at play when prize submissions, book recommendations by other writers, and reviews of literary fiction are so skewed towards men. That skewing isn’t about quality, or about the opinions of the reading public – it’s about gender bias that treats male writers as more ‘serious’, even if women writers are more popular among the (largely female) readership for fiction.”

According to a report from Arts Council England late last year, print sales of literary fiction have plummeted over the last decades, with few writers able to support themselves through literary fiction alone.

Despite women writers’ strong performance in literary fiction, they take up less than half of the slots in the Bookseller’s overall UK Top 50 bestselling authors of 2017. That list was topped by David Walliams for the first time, with just three women writers making the Top 10: JK Rowling, Julia Donaldson, and Fiona Watt, author of the That’s Not My … board book series for children. The list is made up of an eclectic mix of genres, with chef Jamie Oliver, thriller authors Lee Child and James Patterson, health guru Joe Wicks and children’s writers Jeff Kinney and Philip Pullman rounding out the ranking.

The Millions

Return of the Ferrante

“According to an interview with her publishers in the Italian literary newsletter Il Libraio, translated in The GuardianFerrante 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.

The Cut

Elena Ferrante Is Writing Again!!!

By 

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 GuardianFerrante 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.

Ferrante is reportedly also working on a screenplay for the TV adaptation of the Neapolitan novels, which is slated to air on HBO in the United States. Hillary Clinton must be so pleased.

The Guardian

Elena Ferrante is writing again, publisher says

 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.

Variety

Italian TV Adapts to Global Tastes

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.

Rai Raises the Drama Series Bar

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.”

Hello Giggles

Hillary Clinton gave us our summer reading list

Daryl Lindsey

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

Hillary Clinton

BBC Radio 4

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.