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WeLoveThisBook.com. “In alternately clinical and whimsical language, with fresh metaphors that have survived the translation from Italian by Antony Shugaar admirably, di Grado examines the secret sadness passed down through families.”

Date: Jun 11 2015


In Viola di Grado’s second novel, a suicide victim narrates her short life and surprising afterlife.

Twenty-five-year-old Dorotea Giglio slit her wrists in the bathtub in July 2011 and expired in “a grim mojito of mint bubble bath and blood”. Over the next four years she chronicles her physical decomposition as well as her spirit’s enduring search for love. Flashbacks to childhood reveal that she never met her father and that her mother, a fashion photographer, struggled with depression. Indeed suicide runs in the family: Aunt Lidia walked into the river, à la Virginia Woolf, in 1970.

The border between life and death is permeable; Dorotea can interact with her corpse and people she once knew. She continues her former work and routines but most people experience her as a breath on the neck or a fragment of violin music. The only one who sees her is her elderly boss at a stationers. Meanwhile, the dead form a bizarre alternative community with macabre habits. Dorotea walks a dead foetus on a leash and she and her friends travel to London to see Amy Winehouse give a posthumous performance.

When Dorotea falls in love with new colleague Alberto, her emotions soar even though her physical heart has shrivelled: “Inside me, along with love, ammonia developed, and a swarm of larvae took up residence in my interior.” In alternately clinical and whimsical language, with fresh metaphors that have survived the translation from Italian by Antony Shugaar admirably, di Grado examines the secret sadness passed down through families.