1. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Europa, $18)
Elena Ferrante’s latest work completes a quartet of novels that just might rank as “the greatest achievement of fiction in the postwar era,” said Charles Finch at theChicago Tribune. The Italian author, who writes under a pen name, has brought such honesty and insight to her portrayal of a profound, decades-long friendship between two women from a Naples slum that the experience of reading the books can be “something close to spiritual.” In this concluding volume, Elena, who narrates, returns to Naples as a successful writer but finds herself again assuming the role of sidekick to brilliant, undereducated Lila, said Maureen Corrigan at NPR. The friends raise their children together, but the rivalry between them never dies, and after Elena breaks a vow and writes a novel about Lila, Lila breaks off contact and vanishes. The book’s conclusion “masterfully returns to the opening moments of the first novel,” revealing depths we couldn’t initially imagine. “Brava, Elena Ferrante, whoever you are.”
A dissent: Compared with the earlier books, the three-decade-long story in this finale feels “more roughly sketched,” said Claire Messud at theFinancial Times.