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  • Published: 30 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787302136
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $43.99

Italian Life

A Modern Fable of Loyalty and Betrayal




How does Italy really work? Tim Parks takes us behind the scenes -- and the results are surprising


How does Italy really work? The bestselling writer on Italian culture sets out to answer the big question.

There is no world for whistle-blower in Italian, though you can absolutely chiudere un'occhio (turn a blind eye). In all areas of public life - community, education, employment - your connections are everything.

From the bestselling author of Italian Neighbours, An Italian Education and Italian Ways, Italian Life is a particular reckoning with a beloved adopted country. It takes place in a university in the north. Valeria, a talented young woman from hot, dusty Basilicata, enrols together with thousands of others for a degree course that could take anything between three and ten years to complete, given the vagaries of the system. She has sacrificed a great deal to get here. However, as both Valeria and her rich supporting cast of students and professors will soon discover, there are dark and capricious forces at the institution's heart.

Unfolding into a story of power and corruption, influence and exclusion, Tim Parks' compelling new book shows that an education is about understanding the workings of a society - in this case one where family, culture and innovation are shadowed by nepotism, bureaucracy and intrigue. Thought-provoking, surprising and always entertaining, Italian Life is a behind-the-scenes look at a paradoxical country: a gripping account of how Italy really happens.

*A TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR**

  • Published: 30 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787302136
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $43.99

About the author

Tim Parks

Born in Manchester, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. He lives in Milan.

He is the acclaimed author of novels, non-fiction and essays, including Europa, In Extremis, A Season with Verona, Teach Us to Sit Still and Italian Ways. He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Prize, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the John Florio Prize and the Italo Calvino Prize.

Also by Tim Parks

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Praise for Italian Life

'The best interpreter of Italian ways in Italy'

Sunday Herald

'Parks is more than just an effortless raconteur: he offers detailed cultural observation, witty yet eagle-eyed, of what makes Italians so Italian'

The Times

'All Italy is here, its history, its character, its flaws'

Sunday Times

Refreshingly brilliant... Parks skilfully shows how the rules and the maneuverings within Italian university life mirrors those at work in Italian society... illuminating and entertaining. When Parks takes his reader behind the scenes and into a murky world of favouritism and nepotism, back-scratching and back-stabbing, collusion and exclusion, his narrative cracks up a gear and becomes gripping

Malcolm Forbes, Herald

A satisfyingly truthful, entertaining and provocative comedy that lays bare Italy's difference, as a nation and as a joyful, warm, ever changeable people, tractable by temperament, immovably stubborn in its traditions

Julian Evans, Daily Telegraph

Few foreigners have written more or better about contemporary Italy than Park, and his familiarity with all things Italian makes for agreeable reading... Often humorous, it is also...a chilling fable about a country that still lives by habits and expectations laid down many decades ago

Caroline Moorehead, Tablet

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