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My Brilliant Friend

October 2, 2016

 

 

“Adults, waiting for tomorrow, move in a present behind which is yesterday or the day before yesterday or at most last week: they don’t want to think about the rest. Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now:”
― Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend

 

5*****

After finishing Elena Ferrante's first novel in the Neapolitan Trilogy, I am of two minds. On the one hand, being a writer myself, it is demotivating, due to its frank brilliance; on the other, for an enthusiastic reader, it is thought-provoking and deeply engaging. And to think, this is only a translation! Though I am undeniably envious of Ferrante's beautiful skill with words, I have to acknowledge that the growing hype around her is totally warranted, and in fact, I want to add to it:-)
The story is not the most remarkable, but it is the manner in which it is told that captivates the reader.

There is such fervor, but it is beautifully balanced with deeply nuanced thoughtfulness. The voice of Lenu is unique, yet relatable, and the manner in which the story unfolds, at times slowly and masterfully, at other times quick and jolting, makes for a highly engaging read. I have now read all the books in this series (The Story of a New Name,  Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child) and can only recommend them. The story grows deeper as the characters grow older, and begin to see the world around them through the eyes of young adults and grown women. Truly remarkable books!

 

Today Ferrante's identity has been '"revealed" by an intrusive article by The New York Review of Books. Though there was obviously curiosity on my part surrounding the person behind the name, the story and the imagination, I think it is important to remember she is an author, not a criminal or someone who deserves to be investigated and found out. It was her right to remain anonymous, and I find it disappointing and unethical for the Times to have outed her unwillingly.

 

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