"A fearlessly probing and candid look at marital dynamics and generational divisions, first published in Italy in 1952 . . . Goldstein’s translation invigorates a remarkable story, one that remains intensely relevant across time, cultures, and continents." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"One of Italy’s most cosmopolitan, incendiary, insightful, and overlooked writers."
With a foreword by Jhumpa Lahiri, Quaderno Proibito is a classic domestic novel by the Italian-Cuban feminist writer Alba de Céspedes, whose work inspired contemporary writers like Elena Ferrante.
In this modern translation by acclaimed Elena Ferrante translator Ann Goldstein, Forbidden Notebook centers the inner life of a dissatisfied housewife living in postwar Rome.
Valeria Cossati never suspected how unhappy she had become with the shabby gentility of her bourgeois life—until she begins to jot down her thoughts and feelings in a little black book she keeps hidden in a closet. This new secret activity leads her to scrutinize herself and her life more closely, and she soon realizes that her individuality is being stifled by her devotion and sense of duty toward her husband, daughter, and son. As the conflicts between parents and children, husband and wife, and friends and lovers intensify, what goes on behind the Cossatis’ facade of middle-class respectability gradually comes to light, tearing the family’s fragile fabric apart.
An exquisitely crafted portrayal of domestic life, Forbidden Notebook recognizes the universality of human aspirations.
We recommend that guests wear masks on the night.
Ann Goldstein is a former editor at The New Yorker. She has translated works by, among others, Elena Ferrante, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Alessandro Baricco, and is the editor of the Complete Works of Primo Levi in English. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York.
Merve Emre is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and an associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, The Ferrante Letters, and The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, which was the basis for the documentary feature film Persona. She is the editor of the books Once and Future Feminist, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, and the Norton Library’s Mrs. Dalloway. In 2019, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, and her work has been supported by the Whiting Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Leverhulme Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, where she was a fellow from 2020 to 2021.
In order to keep our events program running in uncertain times, we're asking attendees to hold their place with a $5 voucher, redeemable on the night of the event on any product in store or in our bar & café. You can alternatively reserve a spot by pre-purchasing the event book. If you have a change of heart or plans, write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll gladly refund you and release your spot, up to 24 hours before the event. Thanks for understanding, and for supporting your local bookstore.