Ben Smithgall

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Software and data at Spotify. Previously with U.S. Digital Service and Code for America.

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My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)

By Elena Ferrante (with Ann Goldstein)

Finished reading on July 5, 2018

A slow book, cleverly translated into a wonderfully light and airy English. The children and adults who populate this book are rich in emotion and experience but stuck in material poverty. The story is driven by a friendship between characters and follows a natural ebb and flow as the two main characters drift together and apart.

Something that I always find wonderful in books is the way that places and cities become characters. Here, Naples grows into an increasingly central role as the book progresses onward. Its streets and avenues are create and sustain emotion, and places in and around the city are in dialogue with the characters.

With the friendship of Elena and Lila established, I look forward to the remaining books in the series.

★★★★★