Finalist – The Strega Prize for Fiction.
Camelia is a young Italian woman who lives with her mother in Leeds, a city where it is always December and winter has been underway for such a long time that nobody is old enough to have seen what came before. She’s dropped out of university and translates instruction manuals for an Italian washing machine manufacturer; her mother, Livia Mega, once a renowned flautist, spends her days inside taking photographs of holes she finds in the house. Camelia and her mother communicate in a language of their own invention, in which words play no part. The lives of these two women have been undone by a calamity in their recent past, and there seems little or no possibility of ever finding their way back to a normal life. But one day Camelia meets Wen, a local shop owner. To win Camelia’s affections, Wen begins teaching her Chinese ideograms. Through this new language of signs and subtle variations Camelia learns to see the world anew and, in it, a chance for renewal. Stylistically innovative, linguistically thrilling, 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool announces the arrival of an exceptional new talent. A most unusual love story, one as unpredictable as the human heart itself, 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool is funny at times, bittersweet at others. It will find admirers among readers of Karen Russell and Jennifer Egan.