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My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend: The Neapolitan Novels, Book One (TV tie-in)

The Neapolitan Novels, Book One

Elena Ferrante

Translated by Ann Goldstein

My Brilliant Friend is the gripping first volume in Elena Ferrante's widely acclaimed Neapolitan Novels. This exquisitely written quartet creates an unsentimental portrait of female experience, rivalry and friendship never before seen in literature.

The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples. They learn to rely on each other and discover that their destinies are bound up in the intensity of their relationship.

Elena Ferrante’s piercingly honest portrait of two girls’ path into womanhood is also the story of a nation and a meditation on the nature of friendship itself.

My Brilliant Friend is a modern masterpiece, the work of one of Italy’s great storytellers.

Book club notes for My Brilliant Friend are available here
 or combined notes for all four Neapolitan Novels here.

HBO adapting My Brilliant Friend for a series, Vogue, Aug 18


An interview with Elena Ferrante in the Paris Review
An interview with translator Ann Goldstein on ABC RN Books & Arts Daily


LA Review of Books 
EW: Why Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels Are the Best Book Series of the Decade 
Guardian: Who is Elena Ferrante?
Guardian: My Brilliant Friend: How Does the Show Compare to the Books?
Guardian: On the Set of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend
New Humanist
New Yorker
New York Review of Books
SMH: Good Weekend: Working with Elena Ferrante

About the Author

Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Fragments, a selection of interviews, letters and occasional...

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Ann Goldstein
About the Translator

Ann Goldstein became a translator by accident, though it was clear from childhood that she had a deep affinity for languages. She grew up in New Jersey and began studying French and Latin in primary school. At university she took up ancient Greek, wanting to read Homer and Aeschylus. Her first job was as a proofreader for Esquire, and then she...

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Text publication date:
1 November 2018
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Praise for Elena Ferrante
andMy Brilliant Friend

‘The best thing I’ve read this year, far and away…She puts most other writing at the moment in the shade.’

‘Ferrante tackles girlhood and friendship with amazing force.’

‘Read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante—the Jane Austen of Italy.’

‘Elena Ferrante will blow you away.' 

‘Elena Ferrante: the best angry woman writer ever!' 

‘Her novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader…[A] beautiful and delicate tale of confluence and reversal.’

‘Gutsy and compulsively readable…One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory…Ferrante wisely balances her memoir-like emotional authenticity with a wry sociological understanding of a society on the verge of dramatic change.' 

‘Everyone should read anything with [Elena Ferrante’s] name on it.’

‘Beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein…[Ferrante] writes with a ferocious, intimate urgency.' 

‘Cinematic in the density of its detail.' 

‘Ferrante’s fictions are fierce, unsentimental glimpses at the way a woman is constantly under threat, her identity submerged in marriage, eclipsed by motherhood, mythologised by desire. Imagine if Jane Austen got angry and you’ll have some idea of how explosive these works are…In My Brilliant Friend, the reclusive Ferrante does something hard but true. It goes back to the before and by looking at it clearly, with humour and warmth and rage, loves it.’

‘The first two Neapolitan novels [My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name]…move far from contrivance, logic or respectability to ask uncomfortable questions about how we live, how we love, how we singe an existence in a deeply flawed world that expects pretty acquiescence from its women. In all their beauty, their ugliness, their devotion and deceit, these girls enchant and repulse, like life, like our very selves.’

Other editions ofMy Brilliant Friend
  • My Brilliant Friend
    ISBN: 9781922148513
    24 July 2013
    Buy ebook
  • My Brilliant Friend
    ISBN: 9781925240009
    26 March 2015