June 18-21 | Explore the Elena Ferrante Novels with Carole DeSanti
The Readers’ Retreat is part of the Aspen Summer Words Writing Conference and Literary Festival.  

Conference Location: The Gant
610 S W End St, Aspen, CO 81611

  • 3 mornings–June 19, 20, 21, with an optional opening reception on June 18.
  • Led by Carole DeSanti, Vice President at Viking Penguin
  • $375 includes reading materials, 3 mornings of moderated discussion, 3 lunches, opening reception, and all Summer Words public panels.



This readers’ session will explore the Neapolitan novels* of Elena Ferrante, their enormous resonance for readers, and examine why and how this quartet of books (and their pseudonymous author) has turned reading and our current notions of “authorship” on its head.  We will look at the issues involved in the profound, complex lifelong friendship between two women that forms the spine of the novels;  along with class and social identity/struggle; the forging and blurring of boundaries that is one of  Ferrante’s themes; the construction of a writer’s voice and identity, and the job of finding and rendering truth that is the signature of her work.

*Books include: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Participants do not have to read all four books. Excerpts will be distributed in advance of the retreat.

Carole DeSanti 
is Vice President, Executive Editor at Viking Penguin, where she is known as a champion  of outstanding, original voices.  Her publishing credits include Dorothy Allison’s  contemporary classic Bastard out of Carolina, Booker Prize Finalist Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being,  Melissa Bank’s Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, George Hodgman’s award-winning memoir Bettyville, and the  novels of Terry McMillan and Deborah Harkness.  DeSanti is the author of critically acclaimed novel of 19th century Paris, The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012.   She has been profiled in Poets & Writers’ Magazine, published in the Women’s Review of Books, the Guardian and The New York Times and received fellowships at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center and Hedgebrook.