Ferrante Fever continues at HBO. The company announced that the second novel in Elena Ferrante’s best-selling Neapolitan series, The Story of a New Name, will be adapted for TV, coming on the heels of HBO and RAI’s production of the saga’s first book, My Brilliant Friend, which will wrap up on Dec. 9.
The Story of a New Name continues the journey and friendship of Lila and Lenù, two friends who form an intense childhood bond in the working class neighborhood of postwar Naples. The four books in Ferrante’s series track their lives over the course of multiple decades against a backdrop of mafioso activity, intellectualism, and growing socialism and feminism.
The books have sold over 10 million copies and have a cult-like following stoked by the mysterious nature of Ferrante, a pseudonymous author whose true identity has been the subject of a global parlor game.
Considering the rapturous reviews that My Brilliant Friend received, its renewal isn’t surprising. The show has been credited with staying true to the source material while creating what Variety calls “moving and effective TV.” EW swooned that it’s an “addictive saga.” And The New York Times deemed the show “as intimate as Game of Thrones is sweeping.” It’s also been called “a Prada ad for working class gloom,” by The New Yorker.
HBO, meanwhile, is under pressure to double down on programming under its new owners, AT&T, which acquired HBO owner Time Warner in an $85-billion deal last summer. While WarnerMedia, as the newly combined company is called, gets ready to launch its new streaming service in 2019, it’s counting on HBO to provide content. Given the Ferrante series’ international appeal–My Brilliant Friend is HBO’s first original foreign language series–it makes sense that HBO is leaning into it further. Then there’s the Game of Thrones factor: Next year marks the final season of the cable networks’s most successful series, which provides even more incentive to green light proven shows to fill up the programing coffers.
HBO has not announced whether My Brilliant Friend‘s director, Saverio Costanzo, would be returning for season 2, but in an interview with Fast Company last month, he said he would be “happy” to continue directing the series “if I don’t get fired.”
“I have always considered My Brilliant Friend as one of my films rather than a series,” he went on. “And a director would never leave his film unfinished.”