The famous Elena Ferrante may have paved the way for a new generation of novelists among her sisters with her tetralogy that began with The wonderful friend over a decade ago. Yet three recently published novels tell us with equal poignant intensity the tormented fates of adolescent girls in this postcard-absent Italy in the early 2000s and into the 1980s.
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Young author Giulia Caminito popped onto our radar when her award-winning novel came out last year A day will come. His new title The water in the lake is never sweettakes us to the outskirts of Rome, at the beginning of the new millennium.
The narrator grows up in the precarity of unhygienic or community-assigned housing. Between a mother who is always ready to go to the front to demand justice and who struggles with housework to earn a living, a father who has been in a wheelchair since an accident at work at a construction site, where he works part-time and an anarchist brother, she reads to educate herself and find a different path than her family.
But his efforts constantly come up against the invisible walls of his social position; To thrive in this society, still bound by the privileges of birth, she must swallow her jealousy and pride in front of her happier classmates, her anger and bitterness in the face of betrayal, disappointment and humiliation. Unforgettable, this captivating novel is a swipe at injustice and a middle finger at privilege, surely making the author the pens of succession.
The water in the lake is never sweet
Giulia Caminito translated from Italian by Laura Brignon
Between poverty and violence
With blessed be the father Rosa Ventrella also explores this question of social emancipation. Is it possible to break free from the material and spiritual poverty that is passed from one generation to the next?
Blessed be the father tells of the misery of a slum in the heart of the port city of Bari, forgotten by the life of Rosa, who grew up in the 1980s, withdrawn, like the districts of Naples described by Elena Ferrante, in which women have the impression of being helpless victims of an atavistic curse be. The author was also christened “Elena Ferrante von Bari” when her moving first novel was published, A real familythree years ago.
It is a tough and dark novel that is revealed here parallel to the lonely youth of Rosa, the silent spectator of the violence her father inflicts on her mother and the brutality of an environment from which she only dreams of escaping. Unable to keep a job, this father nicknamed “Angel Face” is sowing terror in his own family. money is tight, the hits are raining down and local gossip is never too far away to gossip. This is how the moving struggle of a young woman emerges to evade her fate and not to make the same mistakes as her predecessors.
Blessed be the father
Rosa Ventrella translated from Italian by Anaïs Bouteille-Bokobza
Friendship in all its excesses
Like Giulia Caminito, the author Silvia Avallone, who had great success with her previous novels, takes us to Italy in the early 2000s. A friendship traces the fused relationship of two teenagers growing up in the provinces, witnesses to the digital revolution that is taking shape with the advent of the internet.
We hike with them between Piedmont and Tuscany, then in Bologna, the mountains and the beaches in the watermark. It is an excessive friendship that we discover between two opposite teenage girls: one is exuberant and only dreams of shining – a wonderful friend, as it were – while the other hides in books to remain invisible.
It’s impossible not to escape the virulence of this writing, which embodies the impetuosity and excitement inherent in this harrowing transition from childhood to adulthood, and which places this new title in the tradition of foundational learning novels – just like them two previous titles.
Silvia Avallone translated from Italian by Françoise Brun