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Who is Elena Ferrante? An interview with the mysterious Italian author


Do you know Elena Ferrante? The Italian author’s urgent, blistering fiction has made her something of a cult sensation here in America. I myself had never heard of her until this summer, when I dove deep into her Neapolitan series, an intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends Lila and Elena, bright and passionate girls from a raucous neighborhood in working class Naples. Ferrante writes with such aggression, and such unnerving psychological insight about the messy complexity of female friendship, the real world can drop away when you’re reading her. “My work is sometimes a struggle,” says Ann Goldstein, Ferrante’s long-standing Italian translator. “It’s very intense and very disturbing and sometimes I have to walk away from the words. But then when I’m done I sort of think ‘Wait, where are those people? My life is now empty.’”

The third installment of the series, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, which catches up with Elena and Lila in their roiling 20s, was published in America this week and Ferrante is subject of rapturous odes in everywhere from Vogue to The New York Times. And yet, despite all the accolades and attention, no one really knows Elena Ferrante because “Elena Ferrante” doesn’t exist. READ FULL STORY

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