Italy’s 29-year-old rising literary star Viola Di Grado has bowled over fans with her captivating prose, vivid imagination and muses that tend along tragic lines. Her first novel, 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool, won Italy’s Premio Campiello Opera Prima and was shortlisted for the Strega Prize. In her second novel, Hollow Heart, a girl’s ghost tells the story of her life after her suicide. Hollow Heart was a finalist in the PEN America Literary Awards. Catch Viola in conversation with Lex Hirst.

Supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Sydney.

Viola Di Grado (International)

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At the age of twenty-nine, Viola Di Grado already has a daunting display of feathers in her cap. At twenty-three, she won Italy's prestigious Premio Campiello Opera Prima for her first novel, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool, which was published in ten countries and later went on to be shortlisted for the Strega. Described by Michael Cunningham as a 'powerful and original writer' and often compared to Angela Carter, her two novels have been ushered into successful English translation. Her second novel, Hollow Heart, tells the story of a girls life, as a ghost, after her own suicide. She was a finalist for the PEN Literary Awards for Hollow Heart and has twice been longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Lex Hirst (Australian)

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Lex Hirst is a commissioning editor for Penguin Random House, a festival director and arts programmer driven by a love of great writing and exciting ideas. A previous co-director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, she is a SAMAG committee member and curator for’s Junket unconference. She is always on the lookout for brilliant new voices and stories that will blow her out of the water.