“The Kremlin Ball” is a fascinating and unique work. The narrative is fragmentary, although how much of this is because of the unfinished nature of the work is not clear. Characters come and go, their names undergoing subtle variations; there are repetitions of descriptions; and all of this reflects Moscow itself, undergoing changes of its own and in as much of a state of flux as the narrative itself.”
“Malaparte may just be the original postmodernist, at least as far as genre-crossing is concerned…A head-swirling kaleidoscope that, though fictional, is never for a moment fictitious.”
“Surreal, disenchanted, on the edge of amoral, Malaparte broke literary ground for writers from Ryszard Kapuscinski to Joseph Heller.”
—Frederika Randall, The Wall Street Journal
“Malaparte enlarged the art of fiction in more perverse, inventive, and darkly liberating ways than one would imagine possible, long before novelists like Philip Roth, Robert Coover, and E. L. Doctorow began using their own and other people’s histories as Play-Doh.”
“A scrupulous reporter? Probably not. One of the most remarkable writers of the twentieth century? Certainly.”
“This is a glimpse of 1920s Moscow, among the Soviet high society. It’s the aftertaste of the revolution. Published posthumously, Malaparte’s court chronicle captures Stalin as the surveyor of every intrigue and scandal from his nightly opera box.”
—The New York Times, New & Noteworthy
“Malaparte drops names, titles, and geography freely, and this version of the text has excellent notes that keep someone less familiar with Moscow and Soviet people well informed, while Jenny McPhee’s introduction helps to frame the book with Malaparte’s biography.”
“Malaparte is bedeviled by the issue of religion in Russia’s new communist heart. Where does Christ fit in this loudly, mockingly atheist realm? Furthermore, where is death? Malaparte’s musings on the fate of the old guard – among them such characters as Leon Trotsky’s sister – are both referential and, thanks to Jenny McPhee’s translation, effortlessly flowing. The narrator’s speculations about the aristocrats are interwoven with colorful traceries of Moscow. As the dream of communism sours, Malaparte explores the repressed sentimentalism and despair of his hosts, and the ominous shadow of something more dangerous than idealism.”
—The Arkansas International
Perhaps only the impeccably perverse imagination of Curzio Malaparte could have conceived of The Kremlin Ball, which might be described as Proust in the corridors of Soviet power. The book is set at the end of the 1920s, when the Great Terror may have been nothing more than a twinkle in Stalin’s eye, but when the revolution was accompanied by a growing sense of doom. In Malaparte’s vision it is from his nightly opera box, rather than the Kremlin, that Stalin surveys Soviet high society, its scandals and amours and intrigues among beauties and bureaucrats, including the legendary ballerina Marina Semyonova and Olga Kameneva, a sister of the exiled Trotsky, who though a powerful politician is so consumed by dread that everywhere she goes she gives off the smell of rotting meat. This extraordinary court chronicle of Communist life (for which Malaparte also contemplated the title God Is a Killer) was published posthumously and appears now in English for the first time.
“This short book, so full of arresting images and starling observations, is a portrait of an author who found in a damaged city in her perfect muse.”
“Obfuscation dominates in Gazdanov’s Paris, but in the Naples of Anna Maria Ortese, we are encouraged to see clearly. In Ortese’s persistence in seeing the truth in her surroundings— however stupefying— its easy to understand how she inspired Elena Ferrante.”
“Anna Maria Ortese is a writer of exceptional prowess and force. The stories collected in this volume, which reverberate with Chekhovian energy and melancholy, are revered in Italy by writers and readers alike. Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee reward us with a fresh and scrupulous translation.”
—Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowland and In Other Words
“This beautiful book is a landmark in Italian literature and a major influence on Elena Ferrante—both as a way of writing about Naples and because Anna Maria Ortese may have been the model for the narrator of Ferrante’s quartet of novels set there. Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee have rendered Ortese’s lively, Neapolitan-inflected Italian in vivid, highly engaging English prose.”
—Alexander Stille, author of The Sack of Rome and Benevolence and Betrayal
“Naples is a vast succession of cities—Greek, Samnite, Roman, Byzantine, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon, Savoyard—and every phase has had its chronicler. In the aftermath of World War Two, battered, humiliated Naples found no abler witness than Anna Maria Ortese. Sixty-five years later, with international interest in Naples unexpectedly high, Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee have given us an essential, eloquent translation as faithful to Ortese’s time as it is vividly alive for our own.”
—Benjamin Taylor, author of Naples Declared and Tales Out of School
“Ortese’s people are all in primary colors, so vivid that they jump off the page. Moreover, it is splendidly translated by two masters of their trade, Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee…this book will be of interest to Ferrante fans. But Ortese is worth reading for herself. Her mixture of the surreal and the real in all of this work is original and compelling. An example of prose that has lasted and will continue to do so.”
—The Arts Fuse
“This collection of writing and reportage about Naples was a major inspiration for Elena Ferrante. Ortese’s portrait of the Italian city just after World War II is of a place of poverty and desperation.”
—The New York Times, New & Noteworthy
“The texts in this book are kept together by a tension in the gaze, which wants to avert the eyes and cannot do it because compelled to watch, compelled to witness, and to write. And it is not her private world Ortese wants us to see: but to take part in the intensity of her scrutiny, to see with her.”
“Elena Ferrante has cited Ortese (1914-98) as one of her greatest influences, and the connections are obvious in this collection of short stories and essays, which infuse a grimy, chaotic Naples with unsentimental menace rather than romantic mystique. Ortese gathers concrete details about the realities of poverty, and, like Ferrante, delineates moments of status tension with blunt accuracy. The narrator of ‘The Silence of Reason’ encounters an old literary friend and describes his presence in the room as ‘an abyss, a chasm full of hands clapping, which created a desolate sound, an endless sigh.’ The story’s skewering of Neapolitan intellectuals caused such an outrage that Ortese had to leave the city.”
—The New Yorker, Briefly Noted
“The new edition of Neapolitan Chronicles, by Elena Ferrante’s English translator Ann Goldstein and co-translator Jenny McPhee, presents more reason for celebration than simply the re-emergence of this seminal work. For one thing, until now, Ortese’s book has never appeared in English in its entirety; Frances Frenaye’s 1955 translation lopped off part of the longest of the five pieces that make up the volume and added three not present in the original. For another thing, Goldstein and McPhee have included a preface and afterword Ortese wrote for Roberto Calasso’s 1994 Italian re-issue, and these commentaries by Ortese help to illuminate her aims in writing the book as well as her feelings about its rocky reception by Neapolitans. The translators’ own introduction provides additional context.”
“Though it has patches of satisfactory writing, ‘Neapolitan Chronicles’ is a shallow, obtuse, insufferable book, its faults so glaring and pervasive that I fail to understand how anyone can overlook them.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“The translator is often hidden in publishing’s shadows (indeed, the series of events for translators at Italy’s biggest book fair is actually called “The Invisible Author.”) But many readers of Ortese may actually find their way to this book through the two translators that have brought her work to English-speaking readers: Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s translator, and Jenny McPhee, an accomplished novelist whose new translation last year of Natalia Ginzburg’s seminal work of nonfiction, Family Lexicon, was widely lauded.”
A riveting classic of European literature, this superb collection of fiction and reportage is set in Italy’s most vibrant and turbulent metropolis—Naples—in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. These writings helped inspire Elena Ferrante’s best-selling novels and she has expressed deep admiration for the author of this volume, originally edited in Italian by Italo Calvino. Goyaesque in its depiction of the widespread suffering and brutal desperation that plagued the city, it comprises a mix of masterful storytelling and piercing journalism. This book, with its unforgettable portrait of Naples high and low, is also a stunning literary companion to the great neorealist films of the era by directors such as Vittorio de Sica and Roberto Rossellini. Neapolitan Chronicles is exquisitely rendered in English by Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee, two of the leading translators working from Italian today. Included in the collection is “A Pair of Eyeglasses,” one of the most widely praised Italian short stories of the last century.
“Jenny McPhee’s new translation… reads as more contemporary, immediate, and dynamic. Critically, McPhee’s translation emphasizes how language operates within the closed system of a family… In Family Lexicon, familiar words and phrases are the fragments that conjure glimpses of a more complete world, summon what and who has been lost and allow them to continue, to coalesce, condense, collapse. To be carried away, yes, and to carry on.”
—Emily LaBarge, Bookforum
“Ginzburg was a masterful writer, a witty, elegant prose stylist, and a fiercely intelligent thinker…This 1963 novel, newly translated by novelist McPhee, is a genre-defying work. It reads like a memoir, but it doesn’t adhere to the conventions of either fiction or nonfiction….Ginzburg’s ‘lexicon’ is a valuable addition to an already burnished body of work in translation.”
—Kirkus starred review
An Italian family, sizable, with its routines and rituals, crazes, pet phrases, and stories, doubtful, comical, indispensable, comes to life in the pages of Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon. Giuseppe Levi, the father, is a scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking—when he isn’t provoked into angry remonstration by someone misspeaking or misbehaving or wearing the wrong thing. Giuseppe is Jewish, married to Lidia, a Catholic, though neither is religious; they live in the industrial city of Turin where, as the years pass, their children find ways of their own to medicine, marriage, literature, politics. It is all very ordinary, except that the background to the story is Mussolini’s Italy in its steady downward descent to race law and world war. The Levis are, among other things, unshakeable anti-fascists. That will complicate their lives.
Family Lexicon is about a family and language—and about storytelling not only as a form of survival but also as an instrument of deception and domination. The book takes the shape of a novel, yet everything is true. “Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy [it],” Ginzburg tells us at the start. “The places, events, and people are all real.”
“Jenny McPhee and Nathaniel Rich, both novelists in their own right, offer lively translations of texts that would likely never have been republished were it not for the great memoirs that preceded them and our consequent interest in Levi.”
—Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books
“Levi, a scientist and deep humanist, vividly comes alive in this boxed set. A laudable, monumental effort to gather the work of a crucial writer of the 20th century in one voluminous package.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
The Complete Works of Primo Levi, which includes seminal works like If This Is a Man and The Periodic Table, finally gathers all fourteen of Levi’s books—memoirs, essays, poetry, commentary, and fiction—into three slipcased volumes.
Primo Levi, the Italian-born chemist once described by Philip Roth as that “quicksilver little woodland creature enlivened by the forest’s most astute intelligence,” has largely been considered a heroic figure in the annals of twentieth-century literature for If This Is a Man, his haunting account of Auschwitz. Yet Levi’s body of work extends considerably beyond his experience as a survivor. Now, the transformation of Levi from Holocaust memoirist to one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers culminates in this publication of The Complete Works of Primo Levi. This magisterial collection finally gathers all of Levi’s fourteen books—memoirs, essays, poetry, and fiction—into three slip-cased volumes. Thirteen of the books feature new translations, and the other is newly revised by the original translator. Nobel laureate Toni Morrison introduces Levi’s writing as a “triumph of human identity and worth over the pathology of human destruction.” The appearance of this historic publication will occasion a major reappraisal of “one of the most valuable writers of our time” (Alfred Kazin).
The Complete Works of Primo Levi features all new translations of: The Periodic Table, The Drowned and the Saved, The Truce, Natural Histories, Flaw of Form, The Wrench, Lilith, Other People’s Trades, and If Not Now, When?—as well as all of Levi’s poems, essays, and other nonfiction work, some of which have never appeared before in English.
“Beautifully rendered into English by seven translators, superbly edited and annotated by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino under the auspices of the Leopardi Centre at the University of Birmingham, with its more than 2,500 pages elegantly printed on thin, Bible-like paper, this is not just a triumph of scholarship but a work of art of which its author could have been justly proud. The first full English version of the Zibaldone is a major event in the history of ideas. With its publication, Leopardi will be ranked among the supreme interrogators of the modern condition.”
—John Gray, The New Statesman
“The greatest intellectual diary of Italian literature, its breadth and depth of thought often compared to the work of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The Zibaldone‘s long-overdue translation into English in this handsome edition is warmly to be welcomed…With its excellent introduction, its generous notes and cross-referencing, this edition is a huge achievement, making available at last a key document in the history of European thought and throwing light on Leopardi’s unique poetry and prose works.”
—Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books
Giacomo Leopardi was the greatest Italian poet of the nineteenth century and was recognized by readers from Nietzsche to Beckett as one of the towering literary figures in Italian history. To many, he is the finest Italian poet after Dante. (Jonathan Galassi’s translation of Leopardi’s Canti was published by FSG in 2010.)
He was also a prodigious scholar of classical literature and philosophy, and a voracious reader in numerous ancient and modern languages. For most of his writing career, he kept an immense notebook, known as the Zibaldone, or “hodge-podge,” as Harold Bloom has called it, in which Leopardi put down his original, wide-ranging, radically modern responses to his reading. His comments about religion, philosophy, language, history, anthropology, astronomy, literature, poetry, and love are unprecedented in their brilliance and suggestiveness, and the Zibaldone, which was only published at the turn of the twentieth century, has been recognized as one of the foundational books of modern culture. Its 4,500-plus pages have never been fully translated into English until now, when a team under the auspices of Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino of the Leopardi Centre in Birmingham, England, have spent years producing a lively, accurate version. This essential book will change our understanding of nineteenth-century culture. This is an extraordinary, epochal publication.
“A brilliant portrait of a nation’s psychosis…Maurensig is a master of the tightly knit tale.”
—Merle Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
“Suspenseful and engaging.”
—Michael Frank, Los Angeles Times
“Maurensig unfolds this tale with an elegant, beguiling, meaningful complexity.”
—Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe
—Donna Rifkind, Baltimore Sun
In an isolated Austrian music school in the 1930s, two boys, each struggling with the burden of talent and the curse of obsession, become locked in a complex friendship. The key to their bond lies in the secret of a beautiful, strangely carved violin. As their lives unfold through the most violent decades of this century, the two become companions, rivals, and, inevitably, lethal enemies. With Canone Inverso, Paolo Maurensig delivers a powerful metaphysical thriller, culminating in a devastating finale.
“In Levi’s writing, nothing is superfluous and everything is essential.”
“A magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I’ve ever known.”
These seventeen stories, first published in Italian between 1949 and 1986, demonstrate Levi’s extraordinary range, taking the reader from the primal resistance of a captured partisan fighter to a middle-aged chemist experimenting with a new paint that wards off evil, to the lustful thoughts of an older man obsessed with a mysterious woman in a seaside villa. In the title story, Levi demonstrates his unerringly tragic understanding of the fragility of the universe through the tale of a pensive astronomer, terrified by the possibility that a long-dormant star might explode and reduce the entire planet to vapor. This remarkable new collection affirms Italo Calvino’s conviction that Levi was “one of the most important and gifted writers of our time.”
A great international bestseller, the book in which, on the eve of the millennium, Pope John Paul II brings to an accessible level the profoundest theological concerns of our lives. He goes to the heart of his personal beliefs and speaks with passion about the existence of God; about the dignity of man; about pain, suffering, and evil; about eternal life and the meaning of salvation; about hope; about the relationship of Christianity to other faits and that of Catholicism to other branches of the Christian faith. With the humility and generosity of spirit for which he is known, John Paul II speaks directly and forthrightly to all people. His message: Be not afraid.
AB: A Playlife Story by Alessandro Benetton, the Chairman of the Benetton Group, chronicles the parallel story of a businessman and a brand. The main focus explores how Benetton’s personal life has inspired Playlife, the brand he has successfully re-launched in Italy and throughout the world.
Interviewed by Paola Pollo, Benetton gives a frank account of his childhood in Treviso, his education in the United States, and subsequent journey that brought him to establish the Benetton Group.