By David Canfield
February 11, 2020 at 10:00 AM EST

It’s been over a decade since Elena Ferrante, the iconic pseudonymous Italian author, published a novel outside of her best-selling Neapolitan quartet. So safe to say, anticipation for her new book, The Lying Life of Adults, is pretty high.

Translated by Ferrante regular Ann Goldstein, Adults follows Giovanna, a young woman struggling to come into her adolescence. As publisher Europa Edition’s official synopsis teases, “Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.”

EW has an exclusive first look at the novel, beginning with a cover reveal, which you can see below.

Europa

“We considered five different graphic options: text only, a black and white photo, an illustration, a bold graphic, and a color photo. We then produced 36 different versions and proofs,” Emanuele Ragnisco, Europa’s cover designer, tells EW. “I believe a good cover must put the text of the book at the center of the design project, and be based on a close collaboration between the author, the publisher, and the designer, to ensure that the ‘soul’ of the project remains the book and the story it tells.” Ragnisco credits the creative vision for the cover to Eva Ferri, Publishing Director of Europa Editions UK and Edizioni E/O in Italy.

Indeed, those behind The Lying Life of Adults are still awfully cryptic about what readers can expect. But Europa’s editor in chief, Michael Reynolds, did give EW a few clues. “The world in question is a divided Naples — the bourgeois and well-intentioned Naples of the heights, and the raw, poor, and garish Naples of depths,” he says. “Giovanna, the protagonist of this new novel, navigates these two Naples, diffident, torn between the two, catching only glimpses of who she might become in the perfidy and the calumny of the adults who inhabit them.”

The Lying Life of Adults marks Ferrante’s first novel in five years. With Ferrante’s readership at 13 million worldwide and HBO’s My Brilliant Friend adaptation wowing critics, Europa is giving this one the literary blockbuster treatment. “Stylistically and thematically this new novel is full frontal Ferrante, and the millions of readers who found themselves addicted to My Brilliant Friend and the other books the Neapolitan quartet will find that Lying Life has the same addictive, unputdownable, do-not-disturb-I’m-reading-Ferrante qualities,” Reynolds says.

The Lying Life of Adults publishes June 9, and is available for pre-order.

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