I’d rather be alone, in exile, being the cause of my fortunes and misfortunes, but conquer everything, get in and out of the world on my own feet. – Elsa Morante
In “Elsa”, an immense life in a novel or an immense novel of Elsa Morante’s life, Angela Bubba measures herself hand-to-hand and pen-to-pen with a literary model of overwhelming power and discloses its iridescent density and its desperate and penetrating tenderness with a dramatic clarity. From scene to scene, from decade to decade in this rich and compellingly readable novel, we find Elsa Morante, Alberto Moravia, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Luchino Visconti protagonists of the literary and cultural society of that time and moving bodies that leave a luminous trail, allowing us to grasp once again their vivid glow. – Laura Pugno
A rare genius. An ambitious, tumultuous, highly imaginative and complex female artist. A woman ahead of her times, visionary and independent, charismatic and fiercely intelligent and yet vulnerable, often impossible, unapologetically blunt. Elsa Morante was all these things and much more.
In this staggeringly beautiful and intimate novel about one of the 20th century’s most captivating women, Angela Bubba reconciles the many Elsa Morante: the alone child, an “anarchist of genetics”, dealing with an unconventional family; the young aspiring writer who held onto language for dear life; the wife caught in a tempestuous marriage with the renowned writer Alberto Moravia, who introduced her to Italy’s post-war cultural scene whereas perhaps never truly understood her needs; the first female winner of the Strega Prize whose works still sings to thousands of readers; the mother she had never been and had always regretted.
What results in the end is a passionate, evocative, and nearly lyrical self-portrait as if Elsa herself has been waiting only for this book to whisper her own truth.
On Elsa Morante, from the novel:
“Elsa is somewhat a woman, somewhat a girl. Wise without ever being judgemental. Desperate only because she’s full of hope. She is anything but in awe.” – Alberto Moravia
“Have you realized? You are alive and already a classic.” – Natalia Ginzburg
“You’re a comet. People like you are rare: just born and already shining. You are a kind of hero to me. And you will make a great blaze.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini
“Your desire to be a boy is in reality the nostalgia for not having given birth to a boy: you look for him in art because you didn’t have him in life. All lives are, in one sense or another, missed lives: art is there to fill what we lack.” – Umberto Saba
“Blue represents you, Elsa. You need a lot of blue. It has it all. It has all the joy and all the despair. Just like you.” – Bill Morrow, painter, Elsa’s lover
- Nominated for the prestigious Premio Strega 2022.