While we are on the subject of writing in Italian, Jhumpa’s translator Ann Goldstein has done the English-reading world a far bigger favour by translating the beautiful, beautiful books of Elena Ferrante. No one quite knows who this writer is, because Elena Ferrante is a pen name and despite writing hugely successful novels in Italian since 1992 and having sold thousands or copies in English translations, she remains anenigma. Here’s what she reportedly wrote to her publishers: “I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they bave something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t.. .. Besides, isn’t il true that promotion is expensive? I will be the least-expensive author of the publishing house. I’ll spare you even my presence.” \Veli, there isn’t even confirmation whether this is a woman, though readers and critics insist that her voice is distinctly feminine, and a journalist with The New Yorker has revealed that in her written correspondence, the writer has referred to herself as a “mother”. But then even male writers are known to say they are “pregnant with my next book”. So there. Some or the most famous Ferrante books, apart from Days of Abandonment, are the four Neapolitan novels -My Brilliant Friend, Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and Story of a Lost Child- that follow the lives of two friends, Lenu and Lila, from their girlhood in post-war Italy to adulthood. Ferrante writes with a keen eye and a sharp pen, never papering over the cruelty that children are capable of inflicting on one another or the frequent death of dreams that mark ordinary lives. And her insights into human nature and pithy observations on life can cu t through you like invisible laser, keeping you awake into the night far more than a whodunit ever could. No wonder her fandom is said to have “Ferrante Fever”! Till now readers in India had to either buy expensive international editions of Ferrante’s English titles or read e-books but come March, Europa Editions will bring out Indian edìtions of the Neapolitan novels, to be distributed by Penguin Random House. Here’s wisbing you catch Ferrante Fever too!