Born in Torre del Greco, near Naples, in 1974, Valeria Parrella has gained a remarkable place in the Italian cultural landscape during the last decade. In her literary production, Naples, where most of her works are set, is a very significant reality. Parrella made her debut as a writer with a collection of short stories, Mosca più balena (2003), for which she was awarded the Campiello Prize for best new writer and the Amelia Rosselli Prize, among others. More short stories appeared in the following years. The collection Per grazia ricevuta (2005) was shortlisted for the prestigious Strega Prize and won two awards: the Renato Fucini Prize and the Zerilli-Marimò Prize.
In 2008 Parrella published her first and most successful novel, Lo spazio bianco, which explores the interconnectedness of a woman's identity as both mother and daughter. For the protagonist, becoming a mother entails coming to terms with her own mother-figure and simultaneously interrogating her identity as a daughter in search of the kind of mother she wants to be.
Other works by Parrella, Il verdetto (2007), Ciao maschio (2009), Ma quale amore (2010), which was awarded the Tomasi di Lampedusa Prize, and Lettera di dimissioni (2011) also deal with female protagonists at odds with cultural and social conventions.
A unifying feature of Parrella's writing is that it portrays how Italian women try to fulfil their desires and ambitions within a society which, in many respects, is still conservative and hostile to women. Lo spazio bianco problematises the interconnectedness of a woman's identity as both mother and daughter. For the protagonist becoming a mother entails coming to terms with her own mother-figure and simultaneously interrogating her identity as a daughter in search of the kind of mother she wants to be. The tone of the novel combines a disillusioned observation of the reality experienced by the protagonist with a light touch of humour, as the author confronts life and death, pain and joy, discouragement and hope.
A significant part of Parrella’s literary production is devoted to the theatre for which she has written monologues and plays. Parrella also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines, including La Repubblica, L’Espresso and Grazia.
Extract from the article by Aureliana Di Rollo on the website of The Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women's Writing, Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. Published here with the author's consent. Original article accessed on 27th July 2015.
2003 - Mosca più balena (short stories)
2005 - Per grazia ricevuta (short stories) – For Grace Received, translated by Anthony Shurgaar (2009)
2007 - Il verdetto (play/monologue)
2008 - Lo spazio bianco (novel)
2009 - ‘L’Incognita Mah’ in Valeria Parrella, Diego De Silva and Antonio Pascale, Tre terzi (play)
2009 - Ciao maschio (play/monologue)
2011 - Terra (libretto/play)
2011 - Lettera di dimissioni (novel)
2012 - Antigone (play)
2014 - Tempo di imparare (novel)
2014 - Ma quale amore (novel)
2015 - Troppo importanza all'amore (novel)
Benchi, Paola: ‘Naming the Child: Entering the Maternal Genealogy in Valeria Parrella’s Lo spazio bianco’ (Aigne, Italian Issue, 3, 2013) available online at http://www.ucc.ie/en/aigne/e-issues/volume03italian/