Thursday, 9 July 2015


There are a lot of drawbacks to being an Australian at the moment: a government whose malevolence and flat-Earthery is matched only by their incompetence (and whose Catholic-heavy leadership recently changed the law in order to make it easier for refugee children to be sexually abused in concentration camps); an opposition party who has never held a principle that a focus group couldn't break; over-expensive books; a Netflix catalogue only an eighth the size of its overseas equivalents...

But at least we have better-looking Elena Ferrante books than the rest of you.

In the rest of the English-speaking world, the much-acclaimed Ferrante's Neapolitan Tetralogy, translated and published by Europa Editions (and all power to them, as they have an excellent catalogue of books), look like this:

The only excuse I can think of for these wilfully unappealing covers, the sort you might see on the sort of remaindered commercial fiction which ends its days jumbled up on a low shelf in a post office shop, is that they match the original Italian editions of the books.

But in Australia the books are published by Text Publishing, almost all of whose output is designed by the mighty W. H. Chong, He has made them look genuinely lovely, with bold monochromatic photographs that might be stills from lost Italian neo-realist cinema masterpieces, and suprisingky subtle gold text. (Click to embiggerificate.)

The presence of the intriguing and beautifully lit female faces on each of these covers is so much more effective than all the turned-away heads on the originals.

Summary: Australia is fucked, but we've got us some pretty books.


Jonathan said...

I agree that the photographs are better, as is the overall colour scheme; but the typeface just seems wrong and too large. I'm probably being too picky though.

iolanda said...

bons livros. fantástica escritora

Anonymous said...

I can't comment on the overall state of Australia, but your book covers are much better. I loved My Brilliant Friend and have the next book on order already, but the covers really are some of the worst ones Europa has put out. Generally, I really like the Europa covers, but these make the books look like straight up "chick-lit"--a loaded term but the only one that really sums up why I don't like them.

Maybe you can put their publisher in charge of the government.

Achat bien said...

thank you very much for the quality of your articles are always fascinating.

tom said...

You've probably already seen this interview about the covers:

"She agreed with our choice to purposefully use “low-class” images. And she was surprised by the doubts expressed by some readers. We also had the feeling that many people didn’t understand the game we were playing, that of, let’s say, dressing an extremely refined story with a touch of vulgarity"

JRSM said...

Thank you for that: I hadn't seen that, and it was very interesting that the kitsch factor was on purpose. I still don't think it works, but the reasoning is interesting.