‘The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing.’
Natalia Ginzburg wrote her masterful autobiographical novel Family Lexicon while living in London in the 1960s. Homesick for her Italian family, she summoned them in this celebration of the routines and rituals, in-jokes and insults and, above all, the repeated sayings that make up every family.
Giuseppe Levi is a Jewish scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking. Impatient and intractable, he is constantly at odds with his impressionable and wistful wife Lidia – yet he cannot be without her. Together they preside over their five children in a house filled with argument and activity, books and politics, visitors, friends and famous faces. But as their children grow up against the backdrop of Mussolini’s Italy, the Levi household must become more than just a home, but a stronghold against fascism.
Intimate, enchanting and comedic, Family Lexicon is an unforgettable novel about language, memory, and the lasting power that family holds over all of us.
‘Utterly charming’ The Guardian
‘I’m utterly entranced by Ginzburg’s style – her mysterious directness, her salutary ability to lay things bare that never feels contrived or cold, only necessary, honest, clear.’ Maggie Nelson
‘Ginzburg’s beautiful words have such solidity and simplicity. I read her with joy and amazement.’ Tessa Hadley
‘A small, entrancing classic.’ Hermione Lee
‘A glowing light of modern Italian literature . . . As direct and clean as if it were carved in stone, it yet speaks thoughts of the heart.’ New York Times