The pseudonymous Italian writer Elena Ferrante is best known for her Neopolitan Novels, starting with My Brilliant Friend in 2012. A coming-of-age story chronicling the lives of Lenù and Lila, the series has sold over 10 million copies in 40 countries. Her most recent work, The Lying Lives of Adults, was released in English in September, to debut at number two on the NYT bestseller list for fiction.

Ferrante recently shared a recommended reading list with publisher Europa Editions, highlighting 40 works of literature written by 20th-century female novelists. She described it as, “Stories of women who have two feet in the 1900s, or one in the following century.”

From Flannery O’Connor to Toni Morrison, find Ferrante’s favorites below. Complement with the reading lists of Chimamanda Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, and Zadie Smith.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (also rec’d by Gabrielle Union, Greta Gerwig, & Lupita Nyong’o)

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

Outline by Rachel Cusk

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (also rec’d by Sam Harris & St. Vincent)

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

The Years by Annie Ernaux

Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg

The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (also rec’d by Florence Welch)

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakam

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Arturo’s Island by Elsa Morante

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Dear Life by Alice Munro

The Bell by Iris Murdoch

Accabadora by Michela Murgia

Le Bal by Irene Nemirovsky

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

The Love Object: Selected Stories by Edna O’Brien

A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen)

Neapolitan Chronicles by Anna Maria Ortese

Gilead by Marylinne Robinson

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (also rec’d by Liz Phair)

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Door by Magda Szabò

Cassandra by Christa Wolf

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (also rec’d by Gabrielle Union & Roxane Gay)

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

(via Bookshop)

Categories: Writers

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