The Economist

Shelf life

The best books this year are about North Korea, Detroit, Nagasaki and being a pilot

The Story of the Lost Child. By Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein. Europa; 464 pages; $18 and £11.99

This four-volume narrative, with all its operatic overtones, is a tribute to feminism and female friendship in mid-20th-century Naples. Written by a pseudonymous author whose real identity remains unknown and translated by an editor at the New Yorker, it is a wild and unlikely hit on both sides of the Atlantic.