Natalia Ginzburg (1916 –1991) was an Italian author whose work explored family, fascism and philosophy.
“It was the hundredth anniversary of her birth a few years ago, and there were lots of reissues going on, fresh translations. But when Natalia Ginzburg first started writing there was a lot of snobbery about the way that she wrote—certainly in Italy—because she wrote about things so plainly. There were none of the more flowery textures in her writing that Italians at the time tended to think marked out great literature. She was stripping it bare. It’s taken time for Italian readers to appreciate that, but now I don’t think there would be any question that she’s one of the great twentieth-century writers. She’s really having a heyday now.” Thea Lenarduzzi in the best books on family history.
“The perspective of the female narrator is also important given the predominance of testimonies from anti-Fascist men.” Ruth Ben-Ghiat in the best books on Fascism.
Books by Natalia Ginzburg
Interviews where books by Natalia Ginzburg were recommended
The story of a family never ends, says Thea Lenarduzzi—the literary critic and author of the prize-winning family memoir Dandelions: “It’s always evolving, rewriting itself, long after the protagonists are dead.” Here, she recommends five books on family history that illustrate the shapeshifting nature of this hard-to-pin-down subject, in which memories rarely tally with the written record.
In an era of Trumpism and fake news, the word ‘fascist’ is thrown around with increasing ease and little attention paid to its origins and history. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, political commentator and historian at New York University, recommends the best books for understanding fascism’s history and recognizing it today.
New books are constantly being published. Sometimes they slip by unremarked; sometimes their impact is so enormous as to divert the flow of literature altogether. But what of those books that made a splash on arrival, but have long since disappeared from view? John Plotz, the literary scholar, has spent five years resurfacing these forgotten classics: the ‘B-side books’ that have fallen from the public consciousness.