Natalia Ginzburg: Credit: Archivio Storico Einaudi

Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), “who authored twelve books and two plays; who, because of anti-Semitic laws, sometimes couldn’t publish under her own name; who raised five children and lost her husband to Fascist torture; who was elected to the Italian parliament as an independent in her late sixties—this woman does not take her present conditions as a given. She asks us to fight back against them, to be brave and resolute. She instructs us to ask for better, for ourselves and for our children” (Belle Boggs, The New Yorker).

Happiness, as Such

Fiction by Natalia Ginzburg

Translated by Minna Zallman Proctor

At the heart of Happiness, as Such is an absence—an abyss that pulls everyone to its brink—created by a family’s only son, Michele, who has fled from Italy to England to escape the dangers and threats of his radical political ties. This novel is part epistolary: his mother writes letters to him, nagging him; his sister Angelica writes, missing him; so does Mara, his former lover, telling him about the birth of her son who may be his own.…
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The Dry Heart

Fiction by Natalia Ginzburg

Translated by Frances Frenaye

The Dry Heart begins and ends with the matter-of-fact pronouncement: “I shot him between the eyes.” As the tale—a plunge into the chilly waters of loneliness, desperation, and bitterness—proceeds, the narrator’s murder of her flighty husband takes on a certain logical inevitability. Stripped of any preciousness or sentimentality, Natalia Ginzburg’s writing here is white-hot, tempered by rage. She transforms the unhappy tale of an ordinary dull marriage into a rich psychological thriller that seems to beg the question: why don’t more wives kill their husbands?…
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The web of connections between private and public life, between the intellectual and the emotional and the political, is delicately visible, only occasionally breaking the surface.
Harper’s Magazine
The voice of the Italian novelist and essayist Natalia Ginzburg comes to us with absolute clarity amid the veils of time and language. Ginzburg gives us a new template for the female voice and an idea of what it might sound like. This voice emerges from her preoccupations and themes, whose specificity and universality she considers with a gravitas and authority that seem both familiar and entirely original.
—Rachel Cusk
Happiness, as Such, translated by Minna Zallman Proctor, is from 1973, by which point Ginzburg had mastered her method and was complementing the sharp, glittering edifice of her prose with buried seams of humor and pathos.
The Wall Street Journal
Ginzburg modernizes the form…Between generational differences, genealogical secrets, former and secret lovers, and the desires and limitations related to real and aspirational social milieux, Ginzburg seems to suggest that in the sphere of the family there is always more to tell, and differently.
Los Angeles Review of Books
What impels her forward is the voice: free, pellucid, almost always first-person, interested not in the long view but in the here and now.
The New Republic
Where it shines is at the line level, where Ginzburg and Proctor together often strike perfect notes.
Chicago Review of Books
She is an original, no doubt, and partly by virtue of her sharpness, the peculiarly direct and needlelike precision of her prose.
—Jean McGarry
It’s good to have The Dry Heart back.
The New Yorker
A wonderful act of virtuosity.
The New Yorker
A deliciously arid novel.
Interview Magazine
Candor and lies, love and exasperation, farce and inconsolable grief are seamlessly compounded in this very funny and deeply melancholy book. After devastating loss, which is to be feared more greatly—that nothing will ever be the same, or that many things will be more or less the same? Life goes on, all too recognizably. “You can get used to anything when there’s nothing else left,” says one of the characters toward the end.
The New York Book Review
Her observations are swift and exact, usually irradiated by an unruly and often satirical humor. The instrument with which she writes is fine, wonderfully flexible and keen, and the quality of her attention is singular. The voice is pure and unmannered, both entrancing and alarming, elegantly streamlined by the authority of a powerful intelligence.
The New York Review of Books
Where does style come from? Is it knowingly constructed or unconsciously secreted? Invented or inherited? These questions dog me whenever I read Ginzburg, whose thumbprint is so unmistakable, so inscribed by her time, yet whose work stands so solidly that it requires no background information to appreciate.
New York Times
Ginzburg writes with humor and pathos. Epistolary, family exposes each to the other and we soon recognize that happiness is defined as mundane visitations, daily routines, and reactivated memory of joy as seen through loss.
—Lucy Kogler, Lit Hub
Natalia Ginzburg is a fierce writer. She trusts in things—in the few objects that can capture the emptiness of the universe.
—Italo Calvino
Her sentences have great precision and clarity, and I learn a lot when I read her.
—Zadie Smith
Her voice was distinctive from the start: cold in its exposure of false sentiment while warmly attentive to the details of family life and female experience.
The Guardian
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