From one of Italy’s greatest writers, a stunning novel “filled with shimmering, risky, darting observation” (Colm Tóibín)
After WWII, a small Italian town struggles to emerge from under the thumb of Fascism. With wit, tenderness, and irony, Elsa, the novel’s narrator, weaves a rich tapestry of provincial Italian life: two generations of neighbors and relatives, their gossip and shattered dreams, their heartbreaks and struggles to find happiness. Elsa wants to imagine a future for herself, free from the expectations and burdens of her town’s history, but the weight of the past will always prove unbearable, insistently posing the question: “Why has everything been ruined?”
About the Author
Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), “who authored twelve books and two plays; who, because of anti-Semitic laws, sometimes couldn’t publish under her own name; who raised five children and lost her husband to Fascist torture; who was elected to the Italian parliament as an independent in her late sixties—this woman does not take her present conditions as a given. She asks us to fight back against them, to be brave and resolute. She instructs us to ask for better, for ourselves and for our children” (Belle Boggs, The New Yorker).
D. M. Low (1890-1972) was a British translator of Italian literature and biographer of Edward Gibbon.
Colm Toibin is currently the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman professor of the humanities at Columbia University and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester.
The concepts, emotions and characters in her books are complex and unforgettable. — Laurie Anderson - New York Times
Sharp and lively. — Lydia Davis
I’m utterly entranced by Ginzburg’s style – her mysterious directness, her salutary ability to lay things bare that never feels contrived or cold, only necessary, honest, clear. — Maggie Nelson
Ginzburg gives us a new template for the female voice and an idea of what it might sound like. — Rachel Cusk
Her sentences have great precision and clarity, and I learn a lot when I read her. — Zadie Smith
As deceptively diffuse as it is meticulously observed, Ginzburg’s novel is a gem. — Kirkus (starred)
Ginzburg’s efficient, lyrical prose and ear for dialogue make for an expansive and beautifully rendered study of individuals and community in wartime. With this latest resurrected masterpiece, the late author’s work continues to prove irresistible and relevant. — Publishers Weekly (starred)
Though the political context is important in understanding the nuances of her work, Ginzburg’s talent, and how fresh these stories still feel, is in her note-perfect characterizations. The many political frictions offer a context, but it’s these imaginary/real people who are front and center. — Mandana Chaffa - Chicago Review of Books
There is perhaps no greater archivist of the family lexicon than the Italian novelist Natalia Ginzburg. — Jess Bergman - Jewish Currents