In certain circles it was all anyone could talk about—Ferrante, Ferrante, Ferrante, like an incantation. When the last installment of the Neapolitan novels was released, I think many of us mourned their finale. Elena Ferrante’s four-volume saga centers on two extraordinarily bright friends who grow up in the violent, poverty-stricken Naples remaining after World War II. They delve completely into issues of class, ambition, equality, and, most masterfully, female friendship. They are extraordinary for a number of reasons: the powerful grasp on social issues, the clean yet explosive prose, and the display of femininity in all its messy, complex, passionate power. Soon after devouring the last volume, I ached for more Elena, more Lila, more Naples. Whether you’re searching for the bold prose, the meticulous understanding of female friendship, or the vivid description of a crime-ridden hometown and a society in flux, try one of these books to help soothe your Ferrante hangover.
Curated by Kyle Lucia Wu.
Image credits: Isabella Devoto/Twenty20