Lit Hub


I developed Ferrante Fever relatively late. You have to read these books, the Internet kept saying, but for a long time I didn’t read them. Those books with the little girls on the covers that look like Hallmark cards? I said, Sure, I’ll get around to it. I wondered if perhaps the hype stemmed largely from Ferrante’s refusal to promote herself in an age of gluttonous self-promotion. Then I read them. It did not. For me, her books surpassed expectation, coming across less like Jane Austen, to whom she has been compared, and more like Austen’s angrier, more insightful sister—telling it like it is while drunk on fables and feminism. Her plainspoken storytelling not only propels you forwards through many hundreds of pages, but shocks you with a kind of private recognition that, in its freshness, feels revelatory. This month, Europa gives fans two new books by the author that lie on opposite ends of the Ferrante spectrum: Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey presents fragments of Ferrante’s (still pseudonymous) real-life letters and personal writings, while The Beach at Night—a “children’s book” that is most definitely not for children, about a forgotten doll—is a fever dream of a fairy tale in the old tradition, where inanimate objects possess feelings and desires in a world thrumming with danger and quotidian violence.

–Summer Brennan (Lit Hub contributor)