In Italy, measuring ''the Ferrante effect'' : Novels written by women are shaking up a deeply traditional establishment.

In Italy, literary fiction has long been considered a man's game. Publishers, critics and prize committees have dismissed books by women as chick lit and beach reads. They scoffed at Elena Ferrante, the author of ''My Brilliant Friend'' as the writer of more page-turners.

Then, Ferrante's Neapolitan novels became an international sensation, selling over 11 million copies, inspiring an acclaimed HBO series and cementing her reputation as the most successful Italian novelist in years.

Her ascent, and the rediscovery of some of the last century's great Italian female writers, has encouraged a new wave of women and shaken the country's literary establishment.

Women here are winning prestigious literary prizes and awards, getting translated and selling copies.

IN the past two years, novels by women HAVE accounted for roughly half of Italy's top 20 best sellers in fiction - nearly double the percentage from 2017, according to data released by Informazioni Editoriali, which surveys sales in the country's bookshops.

In interviews, Italian authors, editors, critics, translators and publishers said that women have gained extraordinary attention for their writing. Some call it ''the Ferrante effect.''

''My Brilliant Friend'' and the other Ferrante novels [her latest, ''La Vita Bugiardo Degh Aduli,'' came out in Italian last month and is slated for publication in English as ''The Lying Life of Adults'' next year] showed that ''there is a market for fiction by women,'' said Daniela Bregi, a contemporary literature scholar at the University of  Foreigners of Siena. ''And they also gave literary dignity to fiction about women.''

Establishment critics were previously quick to disregard stories about the bonds between women. That has changed.

Three much-discussed recent books delve into  mother-daughter relationships. Donatella Di Pietrantonio's ''A Girl Returned,'' released last summer in English, is a coming-of-age story set in rural Southern Italy.

Claudia Durastanti's ''La Straniera'' [''The Stranger''] recalls her upbringing in a dysfunctional family between Brooklyn and Abruzzo, Nadia Terranova's novel ''Addio Fantasmi'' [''Goodbye Ghosts''] tells the story of 30-something women facing her painful past on a trip home to see her mother. Both of those are being translated into English.

Raimo, the author of ''The Girl at the Door,'' said that the younger readers in Italy had become more open to fiction written by women partly as a result of having rad women in translation.

''They know there are countries in which having someone like Jennifer Egan or Zadie Smith is normal,'' she said.

But many of the new wave of women producing literature attribute their momentum to the pseudonymous Ferrante, who has guarded her anonymity even as her books have become best sellers.

[Some people speculate that Ferrante could be Anita Raja, a prominent literary translator married to the novelist Domenico Starnone, and they have looked for evidence of his hand in her work.]

Beyond the guessing game, Ferrante has generated international interest in Italian writers over all.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on great women writers and the world, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Anna Momigliano.


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