THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. QUEL TIPO DI DONNA (That Kind of Woman) by Valeria Parrella

When Dolores loses her eighteen-year-old daughter to cancer, her three friends drop everything – their own families, jobs, boyfriends and commitments – to take her on a trip to Turkey. This journey, during a scorching August, brings together four women who, despite their different backgrounds and life experiences, are bound together by extraordinary empathy and the ability to communicate on the same wavelength. Four women who are also the product of all the women that came before them: their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, like an infinity of mirror images. Women who all waged their own personal battle to give the next generation of women an extra nugget of freedom. As they travel across a country in full Ramadan, from Istanbul to the Hoodoos in Cappadocia and the Antalya coast, the four friends have the confirmation that they are not alone, but that they are loved by the women in their present but also supported by those who came before them.

Written in the first person, Quel tipo di donna is quirky, irreverent, visceral and intensely loving. It features characters you may or may not wish to share a tent with but can’t avoid falling deeply in love with and, for all your differences, resonating with.

Three questions to the author:

KG:  Tell us about the circumstances that led you to write this book. You wrote it during the spring lockdown, didn’t you?

VP:  During the first lockdown I stayed at home, like everybody else. I always use writing as a way of correcting reality – it’s something I’ve done since I was a child. Whenever I didn’t like something, I’d write different endings or happy endings. My imagination has always helped me escape unpleasant things. And since staying shut in at home was a very unpleasant thing, with this fear of death outside, I escaped by writing a book. 

KG:  Friendship among women is a leitmotiv in your writing. What makes this bond different from friendship among men?

VP:  I can’t talk about what I don’t know: since I’m not a man I don’t have intimate knowledge of male friendships. In my experience, with my husband, men often have friends they made at school. What I write about in this book is something like recognising another woman with your body – like a mirror image but not necessarily because you’ve had identical experiences. The character of Dolores, for instance, has had the tragic experience of losing a daughter – something the other three characters haven’t experienced but they can still meet on a resonance level.  This resonance doesn’t just work horizontally, between friends, but vertically, from generation to generation. So in every woman you can also see her mother, her grandmother, her aunt, etc. My experience of sisterhood is this resonance.

KG:  Even though this book is mainly set in Turkey, the presence of Naples is palpable, as though it were a character in its own right. Could you explain the importance of Naples for you?

VP: For me, Naples isn’t a city – it’s a person. Naples is the reason I’m a writer, because I’ve lived in a city full of stories, of people, of dialect, of theatre, of songs. Naples is known all over the world. It’s a beautiful and at the same insufferable city, just like a person, like a husband or wife can be – someone you marry because they’re gorgeous even though they have a bad temper. 

By Katherine Gregor


QUEL TIPO DI DONNA (That Kind of Woman) Fiction.

by Valeria Parrella (HarperCollins Italia, 2020)

Read an excerpt from Quel tipo di donna, translated by Katherine Gregor.


With thanks to Frida Sciolla, Laura Donnini, HarperCollins Italia, Milan.

Currently on the bestseller list in Italy: Gridalo by Roberto Saviano (Bompiani)

Recently published in Italian translation: Atlantis: a Journey in Search of Beauty by Carlo and Renzo Piano, translated by Will Schutt (Europa Editions)


Katherine Gregor grew up in Italy and France before going to university in England. She has been a theatrical agent, press agent, teacher and one or two other things before becoming a literary translator from Italian, French and, on occasion, Russian. She also writes original material and is currently working on a non-fiction book.


Read previous posts in The Italianist series:

THE ITALIANIST: From FIORE DI ROCCIA by Ilaria Tuti translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. FIORE DI ROCCIA (Flower of the Rocks) by Ilaria Tuti

THE ITALIANIST: From L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO by Enrico Fovanna, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO (The Unknown Art of Flying) by Enrico Fovanna

THE ITALIANIST: From IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA by Laura Pariani, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA (The Game of the Holy Goose) by Laura Pariani

THE ITALIANIST: From PONTI NON MURI by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. PONTI NON MURI (Bridges, Not Walls) by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis

THE ITALIANIST: From ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE (All Shall Be Well), Writers at the Time of the Quarantine

THE ITALIANIST: From MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO by Ritanna Armeni, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO (Mara. A Woman of the Twentieth Century) by Ritanna Armeni

THE ITALIANIST: From CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli), translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth) by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli)

THE ITALIANIST: From Roberto Tiraboschi‘s NIBELLI ZONTRO, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Roberto Tiraboschi‘s NIBELLI ZONTRO

THE ITALIANIST: From Caterina Bonvicini‘s TUTTE LE DONNE DI, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Caterina Bonvicini‘s TUTTE LE DONNE DI

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor

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