Anonymous author makes Man Booker longlist

The author behind the best-selling Neapolitan novels is in the running for the Man Booker International Prize, her first major international literary nomination, but the writer’s true identity remains unknown.

The mysterious woman, who writes under the pseudonym Elena Ferrante, has been named on the 13-strong long-list of for The Story of the Lost Child, which is the fourth and final chapter in the Neapolitan novel series.

Daniela Petracco, the UK director of Europa Editions which publishes Ferrante’s work in Britain, told the Independent UK that the author has no plans to reveal her identity in the near future.

“She’s happy to be successful but as far as I can tell, it’s not that important to her. She’s a writer who needs to write in order to live. Having her books read is the most important thing,” he said.

When asked if anyone has come close to finding out Ferrante’s true identity, he said that she has yet to be unmasked and revealed the only people who met her in person are Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola Ferri of Edizioni E/O, Europa Editions’ parent company, and Ferrante’s Rome-based publishers.

“No one has succeeded so far,” Petracco said. “She is happy that all of her acclaim has come on the strength of the books alone,” he added.

The Story of the Lost Child centres on a middle-aged, divorced mother devoted to her work as an English professor. After the departure of her grown-up daughters, she takes a holiday on the Italian coast. After a few days things become unsettling; on the beach she encounters a family whose brash behaviour proves menacing.

Her work is published in 39 countries and has sold just under 900,000 copies in the US and more than 300,000 in the UK.

This year’s Man Booker long-list boasts books from twelve countries including Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk and a political novel banned in China.

A shortlist of six books will be revealed on April 14, with each nominated author and translator receiving £1,000. The winning book will then receive a £50,000 prize, which will be divided between the author and translator.

The winner will be announced on May 16 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.