Elena Ferrante on bending writing rules

Elena Ferrante“I use plots, yes, but, I have to say, I can’t respect the rules of genres.”

—Elena Ferrante

Successful, anonymous author Elena Ferrante certainly has the right to devise books any way she chooses.

The Italian novelist (male or female, we don’t know, but my money’s on female) became an international bestseller with her ‘Neapolitan series’, the first of which was L’amica geniale (My Brilliant Friend).

I’ve already written about what Ferrante spoke about in an interview with Corriere della sera, see my earlier post here. In this interview, Ferrante claims that once a book is written, an author’s job is done. This is a breath of fresh air in our heavily social media world, where authors are expected to write and tirelessly promote their books. Still, I’m guessing only a handful of authors could actually follow this sage advice and still make a living from their writing.

Ferrante’s incredible success has bought her lots of freedom, including the freedom to bend genres. This is what happens in her Neapolitan series, which cuts across many genres.

Today it’s already easier for authors to cut across genres. But thank goodness for renowned authors like Elena Ferrante whose success allows us to do so. Brava, Elena Ferrante, for refusing to follow the rules of genre, and hoping this can help all other authors as they break genre-rules in their own writing.


  1. evelyneholingue on May 26, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I love her (I agree with you. I think she’s a woman) writing very much. And it’s true that the most successful novels and the ones we do remember have often broken many rules. I read once that these writers break them because they master the rules very well. I’m thinking of Library Lion a picture book here in the USA that got tons of recognition and broke every single rule in the genre.
    Could be like breaking the law which is easier when you know the law. 🙂

    • kimberlysullivan on May 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Agree with you entirely, Evelyne. You have to know the rules very well in order to break them, and I think this rings true when an author is particularly innovative and genre-crossing. I don’t know Library Lion, but now I’ll have to take a look! Thanks!

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