Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels are coming to TV.

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels Are Coming to Television

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels Are Coming to Television

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Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 9 2016 4:07 PM

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels Are Coming to Television

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels.
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.

Image by Slate.

Pop open the Prosecco: Elena Ferrante’s spellbinding quartet of Neapolitan novels is coming to TV. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Fandango Productions has joined forces with the Italian production company Wildside to create a 32 (!) episode series based on the well-loved books. (You may recognize Fandango Productions as the force behind the TV adaptation of the mob drama Gomorrah, which, in an encouraging sign, was praised for being remarkably deft.) Four eight-part seasons, one for each novel, will tell the story of Elena and Lila, two working class women whose lives intertwine during the latter half of the 20th century.

Amid all the rejoicing—Ferrante fever hasn’t abated since the author’s final novel, The Story of the Lost Child, arrived in the US in late 2015—a few questions leap out. When will the series air? (TBD, according to the Guardian.) Isn’t 32 kind of a lot of episodes for such an intense and concentrated narrative? (Or is it perfect for fleshing out the books’ many dimensions: personal, social, political?) How will the showrunners handle casting, given that Lila and Elena must start as children and grow into old age? Will they be able to successfully translate such language-driven storytelling into a visual medium?

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If the producers get this right, they will tap into an ardent literary fandom as well as TV audiences thirsty for sophisticated soaps. (See: Empire, Jane the Virgin, all of Shondaland.) Oh, and the mysterious Elena Ferrante herself has reportedly agreed to consult on the series, which may help it stay true to its source’s mood and menace.