One of the most famous European post-war novels of all time, Natalia Ginzburg's A Family Lexicon is a mesmerizing hybrid of memoir and novel and the author's most lauded work, now available in a new translation from Jenny McPhee.
Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991) was raised in a political and staunchly antifascist Jewish family that is the subject of her novel A Family Lexicon. During World War II, Ginzburg and her husband edited an antifascist newspaper and after the war she wrote several novels, short stories, essays, and two plays, many of which have been translated into English. Jenny McPhee is an author and translator. She lives in New York. Peg Boyers is a poet and executive editor of Salmagundi. She teaches poetry at Skidmore College.
Jenny McPhee's new translation... reads as more contemporary, immediate, and dynamic. Critically, McPhee's translation emphasizes how language operates within the closed system of a family... In Family Lexicon, familiar words and phrases are the fragments that conjure glimpses of a more complete world, summon what and who has been lost and allow them to continue, to coalesce, condense, collapse. To be carried away, yes, and to carry on. --Emily LaBarge, Bookforum
"The raw beauty of Ginzburg's prose compels our gaze. First we
look inward, with the shock of recognition inspired by all great
writing, and then, inevitably, out at the shared world she evokes
with such uncompromising clarity." --Hilma Wolitzer "There is no
one quite like Ginzburg for telling it like it is. Her unique,
immediately recognizable voice is at once clear and shaded, artless
and sly, able to speak of the deepest sorrows and smallest
pleasures of everyday life." --Phillip Lopate "A glowing light of
modern Italian literature...Ginzburg's magic is the utter
simplicity of her prose, suddenly illuminated by one word that
makes a lightning stroke of a plain phrase...As direct and clean as
if it were carved in stone, it yet speaks thoughts of the heart."
--Kate Simon, The New York Times Family Lexicon recalls the
great modernists' reimaginings of childhood -- Joyce,
Compton-Burnett, Katherine Mansfield, parts of Italo Svevo's
Zeno's Conscience, and, farther back, Swann's Way...
--Eric Gudas, Los Angeles Review of Books
Ginzburg was a masterful writer, a witty, elegant prose stylist, and a fiercely intelligent thinker....This 1963 novel, newly translated by novelist McPhee, is a genre-defying work. It reads like a memoir, but it doesn't adhere to the conventions of either fiction or nonfiction....
The lore of her large, loving, and discordant family provides rich material for Ginzburg's engrossing autobiographical novel." --Publishers Weekly "The atmosphere of the book is so clear and immediate that reading it is like being there or seeing a film." --The Christian Science Monitor "Her simplicity is an achievement, hard-won and remarkable, and the more welcome in a literary world where the cloak of omniscience is all too readily donned." --William Weaver, The New York Times
Praise for A Place to Live: And Other Selected Essays of Natalia Ginzburg "There is no one quite like Natalia Ginzburg for telling it like it is. Her unique, immediately recognizable voice is at once clear and shaded, artless and sly, able to speak of the deepest sorrows and smallest pleasures of everyday life. For all those like myself who love Natalia Ginzburg's prose, this generous selection assembled from her essay collections will be irresistible, a must to own, cherish, and re-read." --Phillip Lopate "The raw beauty of Natalia Ginzburg's prose compels our gaze. First we look inward, with the shock of recognition inspired by all great writing, and then, inevitably, out at the shared world she evokes with such uncompromising clarity." --Hilma Wolitzer