The Greatest Italian "Fiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

    This novel tells the story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. Their intense, complicated friendship is marked by competition, mutual respect, and deep affection. As they navigate the challenges of adolescence, including family drama, academic struggles, and romantic entanglements, their bond is tested and transformed. The narrative explores themes of female friendship, social class, education, and the struggle for personal autonomy in a patriarchal society.

  2. 2. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

    "The Neapolitan Novels" is a four-part series that explores the intricate and lifelong friendship between two women from Naples, Italy. The series spans several decades, beginning in the 1950s, and provides a detailed examination of the women's lives, struggles, and the societal pressures they face. The narrative delves into themes of identity, friendship, love, violence, and socio-political changes in post-war Italy. The series is known for its rich character development and vivid portrayal of female friendship.

  3. 3. I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

    Set in a small Italian village during the scorching summer of 1978, this novel tells the story of a 9-year-old boy who discovers a horrific crime being hidden by the adults in his community. The boy, while exploring an abandoned farmhouse, stumbles upon a young boy being held captive in a hole. As he tries to help the captive boy, he is forced to face the moral complexities of his world and the terrifying realization that his own father might be involved in this cruel act. The story is a poignant exploration of innocence, friendship and the loss thereof, and the harsh realities of adulthood.

  4. 4. Baudolino by Umberto Eco

    Set in the 12th century, the novel follows Baudolino, a self-proclaimed liar and adventurer, as he travels from his home in Italy to the mythical kingdom of Prester John. Along the way, he becomes embroiled in a series of political and religious intrigues, meets a variety of fantastical creatures, and tells a series of increasingly elaborate lies. The narrative is framed as a story Baudolino is telling to a Byzantine historian, adding another layer of unreliability to his already questionable narrative.

  5. 5. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

    The novel is a poignant exploration of desire, passion, and the confusion of young love, set during a sun-drenched summer on the Italian Riviera. It follows the blossoming romantic relationship between a precocious 17-year-old boy and a visiting 24-year-old American scholar staying at his parents' villa. As they bond over literature, music, and the languid Italian landscape, their intimacy grows, leading to a deep and transformative affair that will leave an indelible mark on their lives. The story delves into the complexities of emotions and the heartache of remembering a once-in-a-lifetime connection that both defines and haunts them.

  6. 6. The Story Of The Lost Child: Book 4, The Neapolitan Novels: “Maturity, Old Age by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

    "The Story of the Lost Child" is the fourth and final book in the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante. The novel follows the lives of two childhood friends, Elena and Lila, as they navigate through adulthood, motherhood, and old age in Naples, Italy. The book explores themes of class, gender, motherhood, and the complexities of female friendships. As the two women grow older, they face challenges that test their friendship and force them to confront the choices they have made in their lives. The novel is a poignant and powerful conclusion to the Neapolitan Novels series.

  7. 7. Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante

    This novel unfolds on a remote island in the Gulf of Naples, where the young protagonist, Arturo, lives a solitary life steeped in the wild beauty of his surroundings. His existence is dramatically transformed with the arrival of his father's new wife, igniting a complex web of emotions and a tumultuous journey of self-discovery. Through Arturo's eyes, the narrative explores themes of isolation, the search for identity, and the painful awakening to the realities of adulthood, set against the backdrop of a rugged island landscape that mirrors the turbulent inner world of its inhabitants. The story is a poignant exploration of the bonds that tie us to our families and the inevitable loss of innocence, rendered with a lyrical intensity that captures the essence of youth and the stark beauty of the natural world.

  8. 8. Last Letters Of Jacopo Ortis by Ugo Foscolo

    The book is a poignant epistolary novel that delves into the emotional turmoil of a young Italian intellectual, torn between his passionate love for a woman and his despair over the political situation in his homeland. As he grapples with unrequited love and the loss of his country's freedom following its annexation by a foreign power, the protagonist's letters reveal his deepening melancholy and his philosophical reflections on love, death, and patriotism. The novel, rich in its exploration of human emotions and national identity, ultimately leads to a tragic conclusion, reflecting the author's own disillusionment with the political climate of his time.

  9. 9. Born Twice by Giuseppe Pontiggia

    The novel centers around a father's profound journey as he navigates the complexities of raising a son with cerebral palsy. The narrative delves into the emotional and social challenges they face, exploring themes of acceptance, resilience, and the redefinition of fatherhood. Through his son's condition, the father confronts his own vulnerabilities and the societal prejudices against disability, ultimately experiencing a profound transformation that leads him to a deeper understanding of love, identity, and the human experience.

  10. 10. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri

    In "August Heat," readers are plunged into the sweltering Sicilian summer, where Inspector Montalbano finds himself grappling with a particularly perplexing case amidst the oppressive heat. The story unfolds as Montalbano seeks refuge in a beach house to escape the scorching temperatures, only to stumble upon a perplexing mystery involving a murdered girl and a labyrinthine villa that hides more than just family secrets. As he delves deeper, the inspector must navigate a complex web of deceit, passion, and betrayal, testing his detective skills to their limits. This installment of the beloved series combines a gripping mystery with the rich, evocative setting of Sicily, showcasing the inspector's sharp wit and the local flavors of the island.

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