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Translated by Ann Goldstein
The Story of a New Name is an extraordinary novel about two young women, Lila and Elena, growing up in Naples in the early 1960s. At sixteen Lila marries the shopkeeper Stefano. She is filled with pleasure at her new wealth, and horror at the life she has chosen.
Elena’s own attempts at romance seem to be sabotaged by Lila’s turbulent affairs. As she tries to plot her way out of poverty via academic and literary success, her constant anxiety is that she is just a shadow of the brilliant Lila.
The sequel to My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name continues the enthralling chronicle of a friendship that is obsessive, loving, complicated, hurtful, enduring and constantly startling. It is an exhilarating reading experience.
Read an article about Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series in New Humanist.
‘Ferrante’s writing has no limits, is willing to take every thought forward to its most radical conclusion and backward to its most radical birthing.'
‘Elena Ferrante will blow you away.'
‘Everyone should read anything with [Elena Ferrante’s] name on it.’
‘Ferrante transforms the love, separation and reunion of two poor urban girls into the general tragedy of their city, a place so beautiful and heartbreaking that it inspired the expression “Vedi Napoli e poi muori"—"See Naples and then die”.’
‘Elena Ferrante may be the best contemporary novelist you have never heard of…Ferrante’s voice is startlingly honest…her storytelling both visceral and compelling.’
‘The writing and translation from Italian are first-class.’
‘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.’
‘Ferrante writes so beautifully that you can’t help but become engrossed with the lives, loves and loss of Lila and Elena…will leave readers salivating for the third instalment.’
‘[Elena Ferrante’s] brilliance isn’t limited to her mechanics, her finesse or her creativity as a writer, but it’s her willingness to continually address the psychological machinations of women who have very unfeminine feelings.’