"If there's one common element in all my writing, it's an interest in migrants and migration. I guess it's natural given my own multicultural origins, but it's also at the heart of storytelling: the migrant brain is prone to metaphor—the perpetual balancing of here and there, different worlds in simultaneous play. And being translated. Being found in translation.”
- Elise Valmorbida, The Guardian, 2009
The Madonna of the Mountains is set in the rural Veneto, spanning the eras of fascism, world war, reconstruction and emigration. It is a work of fiction, but also a work of ‘incidental anthropology’, portraying in fine detail a way of life that is disappearing, or disappeared. To create her novel, author Elise Valmorbida undertook decades of research, including Italian cultural history (the tales Italians tell of themselves in literature, cinema, museums, historic sites, special interest websites) and informal oral history (interviews with older generations no longer alive). Finally, the author understands that she has tapped into her own root-stock, perhaps even her own DNA. Valmorbida will read a selection of short personal works, followed by an open Q&A session about migration and storytelling.
Elise Valmorbida grew up Italian in Australia, and lives in London where she works as a writer-teacher. Her latest novel The Madonna of the Mountains (Faber & Faber) won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award 2019 for fiction. Already published in several languages, The Madonna of the Mountains is The Times 'Book of the Month' and 'Summer Books Pick', a New York Post 'must-read', and a contender for further literary awards. Set in the Veneto and spanning nearly three decades following the First World War, The Madonna of the Mountains is a fierce, sharply observed and richly detailed account of a woman’s fight to keep her family alive and thriving – at whatever cost.