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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Marriage, which had seemed an enchanting escape from her tedious, impoverished isolation—the “worn gloves and very little spending money,” the “dingy boarding-house,” the chilly schoolroom in which she taught Ovid—is in every way disappointing. (It probably doesn’t help that the husband’s mistress has told her she looks “like too much of a simple country girl” to murder anyone.) The prose is plain, direct but restrained, and much goes unsaid. Domestic life, its frustrations and miseries, occupies the foreground, the outside world barely discernible at the edges.

Harper’s Magazine

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

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 *

Magnificent…This is a riveting story about how even when a family drifts apart, the bonds of blood relations supercede the deepest disagreements.

Publishers Weekly

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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