Happiness, as Such: Book summary and reviews of Happiness, as Such by Natalia Ginzburg

Happiness, as Such

by Natalia Ginzburg

Happiness, as Such by Natalia Ginzburg X
Happiness, as Such by Natalia Ginzburg
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  • Published Jun 2019
    240 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

The hauntingly beautiful epistolary novel from "a glowing light of modern Italian literature" (New York Times Book Review)

At the heart of Happiness, as Such is an absence―an abyss that draws everyone nearer to its edge―created by the departure of a family's wayward only son, Michele, who has fled from Italy to England to escape the dangers and threats of his radical political ties. This novel is part epistolary: his mother writes letters to him, nagging him; his sister Angelica writes to him too; so does Mara, his former lover, who gave birth to a child who could be his own. Left to clean up Michele's mess, his family and friends complain and commiserate, making mistakes and missteps, attempting to cope in the only ways that they know how. With a few brushstrokes, Natalia Ginzburg can flesh out an entire existence and all its pitfalls and disappointments with unmatched clarity.

One of Natalia Ginzburg's finest achievements, Happiness, as Such is an experimental, wise, raw, comic novel, written in powerful prose that cuts to the bone with surgical precision.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Another masterpiece from one of the finest postwar Italian writers." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is a riveting story about how even when a family drifts apart, the bonds of blood relations supercede the deepest disagreements." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The web of connections between private and public life, between the intellectual and the emotional and the political, is delicately visible, only occasionally breaking the surface." - Lidija Haas, Harper's

"Natalia Ginzburg is a fierce writer. She trusts in things―in the few objects that can capture the emptiness of the universe." - Italo Calvino

"The voice of the Italian novelist and essayist Natalia Ginzburg comes to us with absolute clarity amid the veils of time and language. Ginzburg gives us a new template for the female voice and an idea of what it might sound like. This voice emerges from her preoccupations and themes, whose specificity and universality she considers with a gravitas and authority that seem both familiar and entirely original." - Rachel Cusk

"Her sentences have great precision and clarity, and I learn a lot when I read her." - Zadie Smith

This information about Happiness, as Such was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), "who authored twelve books and two plays; who, because of anti-Semitic laws, sometimes couldn't publish under her own name; who raised five children and lost her husband to Fascist torture; who was elected to the Italian parliament as an independent in her late sixties―this woman does not take her present conditions as a given. She asks us to fight back against them, to be brave and resolute. She instructs us to ask for better, for ourselves and for our children" (Belle Boggs, The New Yorker).

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