A Campiello Award–winning novel “Di Grado’s black comedy, pungent metaphors and controlled ambiguity announce the arrival of a considerable talent” (The Times Literary Supplement).
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.
“70% Acrylic 30% Wool is incredibly sculpted and tight, with carefully woven images and language that repeat in chiseled arcs, creating a rhythmic narrative that radiates with Di Grado’s mastery of craft.” —Music & Literature Magazine
“This offbeat novel is rather more sophisticated than it first appears . . . a subtle meditation on language and its failures.” —Financial Times
“Written in lavish language and with beautiful metaphors.” —The Star Tribune