Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hollow Heart” as Want to Read:
Hollow Heart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hollow Heart

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  254 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In this courageous, inventive, and intelligent novel, Viola di Grado tells the story of a suicide and what follows. She has given voice to an astonishing vision of life after life, portraying the awful longing and sense of loss that plague the dead, together with the solitude provoked by the impossibility of communicating. The afterlife itself is seen as a dark, seething ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Europa Editions (first published February 13th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hollow Heart, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hollow Heart

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  254 ratings  ·  44 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hollow Heart
In 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, ...more
As soon as I started reading Hollow Heart, I was vividly reminded of Di Grado's debut, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool, which I read a couple of years ago. The books mirror each other in many ways: both are about loss, grief and depression; both feature a dysfunctional mother and daughter; both veer in strange and unexpected directions. The writing is so distinctive too, a voice I immediately recognised (anyone who enjoys Yelena Moskovich's writing should pick up something by Viola Di Grado. And vice ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this in 2015 and it had the strangest effect on me, much like waking from a strange dream and trying to regain your equilibrium. I wasn't reading it for review, simply for pleasure- so I decided to share my review today. my blog:
"In fact, people here dislike suicides. We're the pariahs of the deceased community, and they avoid us like the plague. We are the ones who discarded the only thing they desire."

This is a novel I fell in love with back in
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was a book about a 25-yr old women, Dorotea, who committed suicide by slitting her wrists in a bathtub. And a small part of the book was about when she was still alive. But the larger portion of the book was when she was dead. Either the dead women describing how her body was slowly disintegrating (in detail) and getting eaten up by worms and bacteria and such until she was all bone. And her trying to communicate with the living and hanging out with people who were dead, and them talking ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it

This book is like a poem on death. Viola Di Grado has blown me away by her writing. It's deep and requires you to absorb it slowly. It's definitely as melodic as it is gruesome (to some). It's definitely the first time I've seen a contrast between the emotions surrounding death (specifically, death by suicide) and the science of pathology or, decomposition of the body.

Review Continued Here
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuore cavo

Viola di Grado

Cuore cavo è la storia cruda di una ragazza che muore suicida e va avanti narrando la sua storia da morta e raccontando il lento sfaldamento del suo corpo.
Andrò sicuramente contro corrente ma questo romanzo non mi è piaciuto, ho dato tre stelline solo perché lo trovo scritto veramente bene.
Mi ha annoiata e l’ho trovato ripetitivo in alcune sue parti.
Ha una prosa poetica, ma in questo libro non succede mai nulla o succedono sempre le stesse cose.
Pur essendo un romanzo
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Di Grado's take on "life" after death holds fascination similar to the way her take on life is. A young woman narrates her life - both before and after death, with a clinical detachment to either form of life. She observes, obsesses over small things, struggles to communicate and watches her life pass as an observer rather than a participant.

Life and death juxtaposes in this little novel. If one were to open a random page and read, its quite hard to figure out if the author is talking about the
Visceral descriptions of death and decomposition open Hollow Heart, narrated by the ghost of suicided Sicilian twenty-five year old, Dorotea. Later episodes of these morbidly virtuosic sentences, courageously daring to stare in the fate of the disintegrating, microorganism-filled buried body (probably the best meshing of the artistic and the biological I've seen since reading Cărtărescu) are what remain the book's strength between the less compelling stretches which likely reflect the flatness ...more
Vanessa Wu
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I hope I never meet Viola Di Grado. Her latest novel, The Hollow Heart, has the authentic ring of autobiography. Pure imagination is incapable of inventing something this assured, this intense and vivid. It must be drawn from life.

And what a sick, doom-laden, psychotic life it is! The narrator, Dorotea Giglio, is a sensitive soul, quirky, morbid, self-obsessed and glum. But the most disconcerting thing about Dorothea is the fact that she is dead.

She is dead from the first sentence. She remains
Benedetta Marinetti
Stancante. Banale. A tratti noioso a tratti ripetitivo. L'inno perfetto per una mente "emo-suicida", un'ode all'egocentrismo viziato dei figli unici che non ottengono quello che vogliono da una sola vita.
Tanto più da genitori divorziati.
Probabilmente è un'autobiografia vigliacca dell'autrice, un desiderio inconfessabile di un'anima "goth", per ora almeno, dove a qualunque scelta segue un pentimento struggente e nevrotico nel momento stesso che ci si rende conto che gli altri non reagiscono come
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quanto Settanta acrilico trenta lana mi aveva affascinata, tanto Cuore cavo mi ha annoiata. Viola Di Grado sa sicuramente scrivere molto bene, ma in questo caso le sue ottime capacità non sono state sufficienti a sorreggere la struttura di un romanzo strano e particolare come il suo stile.
La storia si apre con il suicidio della protagonista, e va avanti a narrare la sua "vita" da morta, il lento e inesorabile sfaldamento del corpo, la sua anima che vaga senza pace. Il tema è adatto al linguaggio
Sonia Crites
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this incredible book. It is dark and beautiful. This book is a sad exploration of the afterlife of lonely Dorotea. It will move you, it will disgust you, it will break your heart. The writing is highly skilled even when deeply disturbing. This one will haunt me for a long time.
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow so this.....I wasn't sure what to expect, because even reading the insert you know it will be dark. And it was. The story of a 25-year-old woman who has suffered from depression her whole life, she decides to end it by committing suicide. Little does she know when she makes this decision is that killing herself will not eliminate herself from the world, but rather she will be forced to go on the rest of eternity as a "ghost", still surrounded by her old life and relations, the only ...more
Dopo un esordio che mi aveva molto favorevolmente impressionato Viola Di Grado qui mi sconcerta di fronte a un romanzo che sono più volte stato tentato ad abbandonare in corso di lettura.
Una ragazza suicida il cui fantasma continua a vivere una vita umana, osserva registrandolo in un diario il lento decomporsi del suo corpo sottoterra, ma si intromette fantasmaticamente nelle vite dei sui familiari, ex-fidanzati, nuovi amori impossibili e anime di altri defunti. Ci narra comunque , ma
Mar 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noia-mortale
Avevo molte aspettative verso quest'opera perchè avevo letto molte recensioni entusiastiche. Secondo me Viola di Grado ha indubbiamente talento, capacità affabulatorie notevoli e sapiente uso della metafora ma queste qualità le ho trovate fredde esibizioni di bravura, una sorta di "posa" autoreferenziale. Sarà stata la giovane età? non so. Mi sono annoiata e ho sbuffato parecchio durante la lettura ecco perchè ho dato una valutazione così bassa. Comunque leggerò volentieri il suo prosimo romanzo ...more
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
maybe not a full-on axe for the frozen sea within me, but definitely some sort of sandpaper.

after reading, I now know that "parallelepipeds" are like a 3D rhombus. that's the thing about this book - the language is gorgeous and thought-provoking, right up until my eyes start glazing over.
Chris Sarda
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I'm writing to you because my worst defect has actually always been my optimism. I was so optimistic as to hope that death would finally put an end to my suffering. I died of optimism."

This book came onto my radar because it was a finalist for the 2015 PEN Translation prize.

The highly descriptive narrator, the base idea and the prose of this book are all spot on. There's really nothing bad to say about Di Grado's writing if you were to pick a random paragraph.

The problem with the book is that
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Morbid and a little odd, however a creative take on life after death.
Purtroppo questo libro non mi è piaciuto, non l'ho capito e mi sono annoiata durante la lettura. Un vero peccato perchè la trama mi aveva incuriosita molto.
Drusie's Biblio
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can translate this review on:

Ci ho messo un po' a capire come prendere questo libro, sia per leggerlo, che per recensirlo. Alla fine ho lasciato stare le chiavi di lettura e mi sono limitata a seguirne le parole (che sarebbe sempre la soluzione migliore). Nonostante questo rimane un libro a due facce e non è neanche facile spiegare perchè. Manca totalmente la positività. Al di là che inizia con un suicidio, anche dopo, nel racconto di Dorotea Giglio,
Tan Clare
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
When they're alive, people are so free that they need boundaries. Both instinctually and cuturally they identify boundaries with death. That's how it's always been, it's been that way for everyone, and it still is. People think that when you stop living, there's a bright line. Whether they envision it as a direct transfer to paradise or a simple cessation of all vital functions, they've always imagined this dividing line. They need that wall. They need to know that there's no knocking it down. ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars

Di Grado's imaginative second novel, Hollow Heart, opens with a punch to the gut:

In 2011 the world ended: I killed myself.

It's immediately evident that this is not going to be your average ghost story. Our narrator, Dorotea, navigates the living world from the perspective of the afterworld. She visits people and places she knew while living, all the while returning daily to her corpse to fascinate in its decomposition. As a side note - this a book not for the faint of heart - graphic
Mia -
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dorotea si uccide il 23 luglio 2011 alle 15.29

[...] Le cose sembrano uguali ma hanno perso sostanza: il mar Ionio non è più freddo e non mi bagna, la roccia antica intorno al fiume di Cavagrande non è abbastanza dura da impedire il mio passaggio, e se nuoto posso spingermi fin dentro l’utero grigio della pietra. [...]
Le cose sembrano uguali ma hanno perso la parola: da viva se avvicinavo le dita al fuoco il calore diceva il dolore ai miei nervi, ora,invece ogni fiamma è muta. [...]

Il cuore è il
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Chiara  Messina
Tre stellina e mezza.

L'incipit di questo libro è una bomba, varrebbe la pena comprarlo anche solo per quello. La morte della protagonista che si riverbera su tutta la città, che riecheggia attraverso la terra: un'immagine di una potenza straordinaria, che ben si accorda alla potenza di un gesto - quello del suicidio - che per un istante ci avvicina alla divinità.
Poi la morte diventa un susseguirsi di giorni uguali, mentre si assiste impotenti al deteriorarsi del proprio corpo, sino al suo
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiani
Brava, indubitatamente brava. Però un appunto: in due romanzi su due abbiamo padri assenti e madri profondamente depresse: spero che nel terzo i personaggi si evolvano un po'.
(view spoiler). Da morta l'angoscia esistenziale non se ne va comunque. Non se ne va il senso di abbandono e di responsabilità nei confronti della madre, non se ne va l'interesse per la biologia e la decomposizione del proprio corpo,
Massimiliano Laviola
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana
Viola Di Grado è una fuoriclasse, ha venticinque anni ma scrive con la maturità di una letterata di grande esperienza. La trama è originale, tutto parte dalla morte della protagonista, poi il racconto procede parallelamente con la decomposizione fisica del suo corpo. Lo sguardo e l'approccio sono sempre originali, i temi della vita - felicità, futuro, amore - vengono analizzati partendo da una prospettiva rovesciata.
E poi ci sono riflessioni sul senso delle parole e della scrittura, mi è
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro stupendo. Una visione altra della vita dopo e nella morte.

Ho trovato alcuni dettagli alquanto sconcertanti, e forse esageratamente macabri, ma nel complesso il libro funziona. Scorre liscio come l'olio e si lascia percorrere senza fatica. Ti accorgi che ti ha lasciato qualcosa dentro dopo averlo chiuso.

Mi ha riportato alla mente, seppur più come un fenomeno uguale e contrario che non come un fratello gemello, la trilogia di Mirta/Luna della spettacolare Chiara Palazzolo.
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un filo che si auto - recide, la stroncatura di una giovinezza acerba, o forse già troppo avanti per un ambiente rimasto indietro. Un diario entro cui appuntare i diversi stadi della propria putrefazione, la lapide davanti cui espiare il rimorso di una scelta compiuta troppo in fretta, senza esssersi prima chiesti se si fosse pronti a vedersi scomparire.l Un libro che è il grido di una venticinquenne tormentata, che vive la scrittura come te apia per esorcizzare la paura della morte.Leggerlo è ...more
Una scrittura bellissima, poetica e scientificamente accurata narra della decomposizione del corpo di una giovane ragazza suicida. E fin qui tutto ok. Peccato però che un romanzo per definirsi tale abbia bisogno di personaggi e trama: la storia è terribile, piatta, ripetitiva, scontata, non vi trovo nessuna differenza confrontandolo con i più generici ya, e la protagonista è irritante, egocentrica, capricciosa, vendicativa e a tratti petulante ed infantile.
Non mi è piaciuto, pensavo sarebbe
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Amsterdam Stories
  • White Dialogues
  • Other People's Love Affairs
  • The Weight of Things
  • Fever Dream
  • Caro Michele
  • Nuestro mundo muerto
  • Les fainéants dans la vallée fertile
  • The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real
  • Sleet: Selected Stories
  • Bitter Almonds
  • 흰
  • Vlad
  • The Twisted Ones
  • Ducks, Newburyport
  • Brightfellow
  • Justiz
  • The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
See similar books…
Viola Di Grado was born in Catania in 1987. She lived in Kyoto, Leeds and London, where she earned her MA in East Asian philosophies. Her widely translated first novel- Settanta acrilco trenta lana (70% Acrylic 30% Wool) published when she was 23- was the winner of the prestigious 2011 Campiello First Novel Award and the Rapallo Opera Prima Award. It was also longlisted for the Strega Award and ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Try and make them understand that while artists can recycle their suffering in their art, I didn't know what to do with mine.” 4 likes
“I'd understood that grief is a Russian nesting doll: it never ends, it just hides inside new grief, and every new instance of grief contains all the previous ones. So my grief was invisible but it was there, inside every stupid daily disappointment.” 4 likes
More quotes…