Nobel winner 2021 Abdulrazak Gurnah

It is that time of year again when the Nobel literature prize is announced it just has and this year’s winner is Abdulrazak Gurnah a writer that is not known to me so he is  a leftfield choice I have just ordered two of his books I see that Lisa has read him at Anzlitlovers  .  He has been on the booker list twice in 1994 and 2001. If you have read him what would you recommend ?

The Lying LIfe of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Italian Fiction

Original tilte – La vita bugiarda degli adulti

Translator – Ann Goldstein

Source – copy for blog tour

 

I don’t often sign up for a blog tour but when approached to do one for the Cheltenham Literary festival it was always going to be a yes as the theme is reading the world which is something I always do here. But then I had no idea what the book was till it arrived at the house. So when the latest book by Elena Ferrante dropped on the doorstep of Wintonsdad towers.  I was in two minds as I hadn’t been bowled over by her. As in the past, I had read the first and last book in the Neapolitan series. I was also one to avoid hype and the time the first book came out My Brillant friend was everywhere in the blogosphere so I left reviewing it. There is still the question of who Ferrant is I love that even after all this success she or he or they has stayed hidden from the limelight in a way it has attracted me more to them as a writer as it shows they are in it for the writing. And  I am always willing to try again with a writer I hadn’t got on with a second chance and this time it was the right choice it is a standalone novel set in the Naples of the 90s and follows three teen years of Giovanna’s life. A coming-of-age novel.

Two years before leaving home my father sid to my morther that I was ver ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents new,y married, had brought at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto. Eveything – the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a frigid February, those words – remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing,nothing of my own, nothing that has really begn or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knotm and nobody, not even the one who at the moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption

The opening lines told in retrospective by Giovanna years after the event.

The book starts with the 13-year-old Giovanna hearing at the crack of a door her father says she was Ugly and becoming more like his sister Vittoria. This is the first thing she has heard of a family. Her parent’s successful couple life up the hill in Naples in a middle-class area. She loves and has her father as her idol so when she hears this it sets her on a path to first find out why her father compared her to the auntie she knew nothing about and after much persuasion, she is allowed to meet her aunt and this leads to the discovery of her parent’s origins a working-class neighborhood and a family of aunts and uncles that she never knew existed and the Aunt at once enthralled and vibrant draws the young girl in and shows her the working class place her family was from. But then she sees her in the way her father does over time. Add to this her parents start to unravel over this time and drift apart. Giovanna also blossoms over this time and discovers boys. Add to that the truth behind a family Heirloom this is a glimpse into three years that will change her life forever.

I learned to lie to my parents more and more. At first I didn’t tell real lies, but since I wasn’t strong enough to oppose their always well-ordered world, I pretended to accept it while at the same time I cut out for myself a narrow path that I could abandon in a hurry if they merely darkened. I behaved like that especilly with my father, even though his every word had in my eyes a dazzling authority, and it was exhausting and painful to try ti deceive him.

fter she meets Vittoria she has to start telling lies to her parents as she is drawn into a new world.

It is fair to say this impressed me more than the other two books by Ferrante I have read. I have always been a fan of Bildungsroman works those important teen years are the years that we become the adults we can be and here we have so many threads it makes the story more than that. First is why did her father call her Ugly like Vittoria and was that the right term to use. Why did the parents hide this other family this is all about Class and how they tried to escape their past and class moving to San Giacomo when they married a middle-class place far removed from the home. Add to this a girl discovering herself as all this goes on it and also falling in love for the first time as her family falls apart. Then there is the other character to this book the city Naples as in her other books this is a story of a city of class and the city about how people move on. A story that isn’t just a Naples story but it is told so well by Ferrante her love for her home city of Naples that always leaps of the page. Has it converted me to Ferrante well I will try some of her other stand-alone works? What are your thoughts about Ferrante?  Do you read the world?

Winstons score –  A – a brilliant coming-of-age novel with family secrets at its heart!

 

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