Friday, September 25, 2015

The Hollow Heart; Viola DiGrado

The Hollow Heart; Viola DiGrado
Europa Editions - 2015

Many of my readers know how much I adore the Europa imprint which offers readers quality international literary fiction. Their releases are often translated works that are sometimes edgy and always make you think about what you've read afterward. The Hollow Heart was definitely one of those edgy stories.

In The Hollow Heart, on July 23, 2011 at 3:29 p.m., twenty-five year old Dorotea Giglio commits suicide. She slits her wrists in the same bathtub where her mother gave birth to her.  As the story opens she has already died, and although her physical body is dead, she's back among the living, unwilling to say goodbye to her former life. She attends her own funeral, returns to work at the stationary store as scheduled, sees her old boyfriend has found someone new, and visits her home and old room where she cries and cries.

In dark, morbid, yet oftentimes humorous prose, Dorotea shares her unhappy story. We learn of her painful childhood, the father she never knew, her emotionally vacant mother, her struggle with depression and the boyfriend who thought so very little of her that he broke up with her via text message.  Alternating between her life before and after suicide, Dorotea observes the people she left behind and also chronicles the morbid details of what is happening to her physical body. She also takes time to hook up with other spirits who are still looking to have some fun.

This is an incredibly short book, just 174 pages, but it's definitely a story that sticks with you. The writing and translation is very good, and made me wonder just how the author came up with such a twisted story.  There's nothing happy about this story -- just stare at that cover art for a moment.  Although this book did not leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling about the after life, I'm happy I gave this book a try, it was a good and needed change from what I've been reading recently. Readers looking for something different and edgy might want to read it and see what I mean.

4/5 stars


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