“Elena Ferrante? Yes, I’ve read her, but I’m not wild about her. She’s much more popular among you Americans.”

This remark, tossed off with a dismissive shrug by an elegant woman with whom I’d struck up a conversation in the formaggi e salumi department of Turin’s upscale market Eataly, was typical of the reactions I have encountered from numerous Italians when I mention their famous compatriot, the author who has sold millions of books in 40 countries, and who in 2016 was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.