Silvia Ballestra Silvia Ballestra
Amiche mie (My Friends)
A novel, Mondadori, February 2014, 276 pages

Sofia, Carla, Norma and Vera: women at the front line of life’s fast-moving frontier. Their children go to the same schools, so in the mornings before work the women have coffee together at the Golden Palomino café – a true institution – to talk about themselves and what’s going on around them.

Sofia is a bit obsessed by food, with meals that every day become the field in which she measures her perfectionism against her neuroses. Carla is worried about the fact that her job is unstable, her relationship with her husband (whose career has taken off full speed), and the fact that she feels trapped in her domestic confines and routine. Norma, on the other hand, is the survivor of a painful separation and is facing the many paradoxes of being newly single at forty, with children. Finally Vera, a woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders and who never stops, is the breadwinner of a family in which her husband has lost his job – and he will be the one, ruined by the slot machines, to lay out the cards of the plot in a dramatic and unexpected way.

This moment of crisis unites the friends and obliges them to confront themselves. Each one will give their interpretation to Vera’s drama, in that female chorus of independent and concentric reflections, slowly conferring some meaning to even the harshest reality, making it thinkable and visible, like a kaleidoscope.

With a lively yet attentive language, conveyed with an ironic and impassioned voice, Silvia Ballestra constructs a tight investigation around the great themes of contemporary life: family and its complex relational dynamics, food, work – which for women is a challenge when it’s there and, too often, when there is none to be found – grief, politics, raising children, battles, betrayals, love which despite everything resists at times like the mushrooms in Marcovaldo’s flowerbed. An intense fresco emerges and far from the stereotypes and ideologies, at once caustic and moving, Sofia, Carla, Norma and Vera ruthlessly dissect our hypocrisy; but above all they give us back the heat of all those who won’t stop wanting to understand, nurture and keep moving on.

Silvia Ballestra

Silvia Ballestra was born in Porto San Giorgio (Ascoli Piceno). She was one of Pier Vittorio Tondelli’s “under 25s” in the landmark series of the late 1980s. She is the author of Compleanno dell’iguana (1991; 1995), La seconda Dora (2006), Piove sul nostro amore (2008), I giorni della Rotonda (2009, Città di Fabriano Award), Le colline di fronte (2011), a journey around the life of Tullio Pericoli, Amiche mie (2014), the children book Christine e la città delle dame (2015), Vicini alla terra (2017). Her most recent book is La nuova stagione (2019, Benedetto Croce Award 2020).

 

 

“Ballestra retrieves the oral style, that allows to express outrage without sacrificing irony.” l’Unità

“A novel in the form of conversation, fluid, lively, with a few waves of melancholy.” Tuttolibri

“It is not a ‘one for all, all for one’, but a kind of collective female consciousness which everybody can draw from.” Grazia

“Silvia Ballestra doesn’t weave together plots and tiles. She goes into the rooms, takes a look and goes away. She creates characters and takes care of them.” la Repubblica

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