‘A masterpiece.’ — The New Yorker
‘A glowing light of modern Italian literature.’ — New York Times
‘The places, events, and people in this book are real. I haven’t invented a thing.’
Natalia Ginzburg wrote her masterful autobiographical novel Family Lexicon while living in London in the 1960s. Homesick for her Italian family, she summoned them in this celebration of the routines and rituals, in-jokes and insults and, above all, the repeated sayings that make up every family.
Giuseppe Levi is a Jewish scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking. Impatient and intractable, he is constantly at odds with his impressionable and wistful wife Lidia yet he cannot be without her. Together they preside over their five children in a house filled with argument and activity, books and politics, visitors, friends and famous faces. But as their children grow up against the backdrop of Mussolini’s Italy, the Levi household must become not only a home, but a stronghold against fascism.
Intimate, enchanting and comedic, Family Lexicon is an unforgettable novel about language, memory, and the lasting power that family holds over all of us.
‘Ginzburg gives us a new template for the female voice and an idea of what it might sound like.’ — Rachel Cusk
‘I’m utterly entranced by Ginzburg s style her mysterious directness, her salutary ability to lay things bare that never feels contrived or cold, only necessary, honest, clear.’ — Maggie Nelson
‘Her prose style is deceptively simple and very complex. Its effect on the reader is both calming and thrilling that’s not so easy to do.’ — Deborah Levy
‘Ginzburg’s beautiful words have such solidity and simplicity. I read her with joy and amazement.’– Tessa Hadley
Translated by Jenny McPhee
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