Best-selling Elena Ferrante novels get TV adaptation

Italian literary sensation Elena Ferrante's best-selling Neapolitan novels about female friendship are being adapted for television, with the author, who writes under a pseudonym, helping transform the books for the small screen.

Best-selling Elena Ferrante novels get TV adaptation
Ferrante's bestselling works are set to be adapted for TV. Photo: quattrostagioni

Television and film producer Wildside, currently producing the Paolo Sorrentino drama “The Young Pope” starring Jude Law, has struck a deal with Italy's Fandango Productions to co-develop and co-produce Ferrante's novels.
The quartet of stories, recently added to the New York Times' “best 10 books of 2015” list, portrays the gritty lives of Elena and Lila from childhood to motherhood against the social and political backdrop of 1950s Naples.
“We're very privileged to be working closely with the superbly talented Ferrante and Fandango productions to bring this rich, gripping and highly-addictive collection of novels to life,” Wildside's managing director Lorenzo Mieli was quoted as saying in a statement.
“Ferrante's works portray a fascinating and intense insight into past times, and the stories and characters have become a literary obsession for many fans all over the world,” he said.
So has the writer's real identity, with some claiming there are hints from her writing that she is really male, while others point to correspondence with journalists in which the author has referred to herself as a mother.
Fandango CEO Domenico Procacci said the production company had been working on “My Brilliant Friend”, the first in the series, for two years “and we've seen the potential of this project grow day by day”.
“I'm confident that together with Wildside we can realize something great,very respectful of Ferrante's work and our Italian culture and, at the same time, with real international appeal,” he said.
FremantleMedia acquired a 62.5 percent majority stake in Wildside in August 2015 in a bid to expand its prime-time scripted business and said the adaption of the Neapolitan novels was “one of a number of international projects for the company”, which has also snapped up the rights to Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti's futuristic novel “Anna”.

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Elena Ferrante: Italian author’s next novel to be published in English next year

Fans of the enigmatic author can get their hands on her latest book in November 2019 - but only in Italian.

Elena Ferrante: Italian author's next novel to be published in English next year
Will Elena Ferrante's new novel match the success of My Brilliant Friend? Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

English-speaking fans of Italian author Elena Ferrante must wait until next June to read her latest novel, to be published in Italian in November.

So far publishers have released only an intriguing title and provocative opening lines to whet their literary appetites.

“La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti” hits Italian bookstores on November 7, but its English version, translated as “The Lying Life of Adults” only comes out on June 9, 2020.

Few details about the new novel are known — fitting for the best-selling author writing under a pseudonym whose real identity still remains shrouded in mystery.

Ferrante's four-volume series “Neopolitan Novels,” of which the first, “My Brilliant Friend” appeared in 2012 in English, sold over 10 million copies around the world and was translated into more than 40 languages, thrusting the writer into the spotlight.

On Monday, the new book's Italian publishers Edizioni posted on Twitter the novel's cover photograph in black and white depicting two outstretched hands.

In the new novel, Ferrante returns to Naples, the atmospheric backdrop to her famous series, but the work no longer centres on that saga's two gifted heroines, friends but also rivals in the post-war southern Italian city.

The opening lines of “The Lying Life of Adults” were released a few weeks ago by the publishers: “Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly.”

In 2016 an Italian journalist claimed, after conducting an investigation into financial records, that the true identity of Ferrante was that of Rome-based translator Anita Raja.

Ferrante's publishers have neither confirmed nor denied that theory.

“My Brilliant Friend” was also adapted for a television series co-produced by Italy's national broadcaster Rai and US cable television network HBO.

READ ALSO: Five must-read novels that will transport you to Italy