‘Lui e io’ (‘He and I’) by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Dick Davis

These days, many Italian (female) authors seem to be discovered or re-discovered thanks to the “Elena Ferrante effect”. We couldn’t imagine two authors more different than Ferrante and Natalia Ginzburg, but, regardless of the reasons, we are happy for the recent rediscovery of Ginzburg’s seminal work in the English-speaking world, where her books are having a period of new popularity. 
 
Little Virtues is something between a collection of short stories and a collection of personal essays; one of our favourite pieces in the book is ‘He and I’, a delicately ironic recount of the author’s life with her second husband, Gabriele Baldini, who was also a writer. The piece is at times funny, at times melancholic; it is a quintessential example of Ginzburg’s distinctive voice, intimate and intelligent, graceful and deep, and able to observe everyday life and human relationships from an astonishingly original perspective.

First published in Le piccole virtù, Einaudi, 1962 / The Little Virtues, Daunt Books, 2018

‘My Husband’ by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Paul Lewis

Discovering Ginzburg’s body of work has been one of my reading highlights over the last eighteen months. This story is typical of her magic, written in the first person, detailing a newly married wife coming to terms with the intrusions in her relationship. She writes with such clarity, and almost lulls you into a false sense of security – when sudden emotional tornadoes hit. This is fiction as memory, visceral and often proudly sad. Predictably, I’m hooked. 

First published in English in The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, ed. Jhumpa Lahiri, 2019