“My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante, is a brilliant read, if somewhat elusive at the start. This mirrors the enigmatic aspect of the novelist herself: Who is she? Many readers of her books in English, have been raving about them. Others have been wondering what all the hype is about. Now I know why the brilliance!
I must admit I was put off, at first glance, by the long list of characters at the beginning of the novel. It reminded me of a Shakespearean play. Ten groups, mainly family ones, contain nearly fifty characters, including their names and their roles. I only read the list after I finished reading the book. I preferred to let the narrator introduce the characters bit by bit, during the unfolding of events.
This brilliant novel reads like a memoir, although the publisher specifies that it is fiction. It’s written anonymously—Elena Ferrante is not the true identity of the author. This adds to the mystery of its creation and genre.