Friday, November 05, 2021

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky visits mid-20th-century Mafia families from the female viewpoint

Mario Puzo meets Elena Ferrante in Krupitsky’s dynamite debut novel, a decades-spanning saga beginning in 1920s Brooklyn. “There is no easy way to untangle what is Family and what is family,” her characters realize, to their chagrin and peril.

Daughters of influential Mafiosos, fiery Sofia Colicchio and her introverted best friend, Antonia Russo, know their families aren’t typical. Schoolmates avoid them, their mothers constantly worry, and on Sundays they attend a large Italian feast at their fathers’ boss’s home.

When Antonia’s papa tries to escape his profession, he gets “disappeared,” a terrible warning against future betrayals. Sofia and Antonia are resilient, multifaceted young women whose bond occasionally strains as they test the boundaries of independence, and their choice of husbands ensnares them further in Family business.

Depicting twentieth-century Mafia families primarily from the female viewpoint is a fabulous concept that Krupitsky carries out with aplomb. Perspective shifts are smooth, and the backdrops of Prohibition and WWII are superbly realized.

Italian American traditions (including delicious casseroles) are highlighted, and the unique immigration stories show why and how Italian and Jewish newcomers get pulled into organized crime. Fans of Adriana Trigiani and Lynda Cohen Loigman will inhale this tense, engrossing novel about family ties, women’s friendships, and the treacherous complications of loyalty.

The Family was published on Tuesday by Putnam in hardcover and ebook. I read it back in May and reviewed it for the September 1st issue of Booklist, and I'm glad my editor there decided to assign it to me!  

Also, am I wrong, or does the font used on the cover remind you of the one used for Mario Puzo's The Family, his novel about the infamous Borgias of 15th-century Italy, who he called the "original crime family"? 

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