For fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series comes a captivating family saga focused on a willful young woman’s struggles against her oppressive small town by acclaimed Italian author Rosa Ventrella.
In old Bari, everyone knows Maria De Santis as “Malacarne,” the bad seed. Nicknamed for her dark features, volcanic temperament, and resistance to rules, the headstrong girl can only imagine the possibilities that lie outside her poverty-stricken neighborhood.
Growing up with her mother, two brothers, and a tyrannical father, Maria must abide. She does–amid the squalid life to which she was born, the cruelties of her small-minded neighbors, and violence in a constant threat of eruption. As she reconciles her need for escape with the allegiance she feels toward her family, Maria has her salvations: her secret friend, Michele, son of a rival family and every bit the outsider she is, and her passion for books, which may someday take her far, far away.
In this exquisitely rendered and sensory-rich novel, Rosa Ventrella explores the limits of loyalty, the redeeming power of friendship and love, and the fire in the soul of one woman who was born to break free.
About the author:
Rosa Ventrella was born in Bari and still resides in her home country of Italy, where she teaches Italian literature. She has also worked as an editor and has written for the magazine I fiori del male. A Decent Family, published in fourteen countries, is her first novel to appear in English.
About the translator:
Ann Goldstein is a former editor at the New Yorker and the translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet. She has also translated works by, among others, Primo Levi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italo Calvino, and Alessandro Baricco, and she is the editor of The Complete Works of Primo Levi in English. Ms. Goldstein is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.