Europa Editions has launched “Our Brilliant Friends,” an after-dinner book club and watch party that meets every Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET on Zoom, an hour before the HBO adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet airs. Tickets will be sold for a suggested donation of $5 and all proceeds will benefit the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, which was launched last week with the support of James Patterson, Reese’s Book Club, the American Booksellers Association, and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
Events begin with a panel conversation among prominent Ferrante fans, followed by a brief reading by translator Ann Goldstein from Ferrante’s new novel, The Lying Life of Adults (publishing September 1, 2020). At 10:00 p.m., attendees are encouraged to stick around in the Zoom chat as they watch and react to the newest episode of My Brilliant Friend on HBO.
The first event was held on April 6, 2020, and co-hosted by Europa and the Center for Fiction. Panelists included translator Goldstein; Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation; Noreen Tomassi, executive director of the Center for Fiction; and Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions. The event had over 700 RSVPs, and Ferrante readers from four different continents joined the call.
Attendees asked questions of the panelists ranging from “How did [Ann] end up deciding to translate these novels?” to “What do you think Lenu and Lila would be doing now in this time of isolation?” They later took to Twitter to report that they were “so grateful for these virtual get togethers...honestly made my day just being connected with everyone all around the world for a few hours discussing and chatting about all things Ferrante.” Wall Street Journal reporter Kathryn Dill tweeted, “I really miss going to book events but laying on my couch drinking wine and listening to Ann Goldstein read from Elena Ferrante’s new novel over Zoom—as I am right now—does kind of feel like a dream I’ve had.”
For the April 13 event, co-hosts include McNally Jackson, Elliott Bay Bookstore, and City Lights Bookstore. Guests at future events will include Alexander Chee, Sarah Treem (The Affair), John Freeman (Freeman’s), Ann Goldstein, Lauren Groff, and many others to be announced.