Tim Parks

Tim Parks’s Another Literary Tour of Italy is out now.

Hisham Matar​ doesn’t need to look far for his subject matter. In his remarkable memoir The Return (2016) he explained that a privileged childhood in a wealthy Libyan family turned to nightmare when his father, leader of an anti-Gaddafi insurrection, was kidnapped in Cairo in 1990 and imprisoned in Tripoli. He eventually disappeared, never to re-emerge. As a result Matar’s...

Buttockitis: ‘The Hive’

Tim Parks, 13 July 2023

Three hundred​ characters in 260 pages. How do you possibly keep track of so many names, so much intrigue? It’s hard to imagine a reader of Camilo José Cela’s masterpiece, The Hive, who hasn’t asked this question – who hasn’t wondered, after twenty or thirty pages, whether or how to go on. Do you just accept the confusion? Or, alternatively, keep...

Alessandro Manzoni​ was born in 1785, the only child of an arranged marriage between Giulia Beccaria, daughter of the Milanese intellectual Cesare Beccaria, and Pietro Manzoni, a minor nobleman. Pietro was 26 years older than his wife. She was bored by his company and it’s widely believed that Alessandro wasn’t his child. Sent to a wet nurse in the country, the boy spent most of...

The Beast He Was: ‘Kapo’

Tim Parks, 26 May 2022

MiroslavBlam appreciates his apartment because it’s ‘in the centre of things, yet remains a hideaway’. A mansard at the top of his town’s most prominent building, on the edge of Main Square, it presents several lines of defence. There is a watchful janitor, no lift, many stairs to climb, ‘meddlesome people’ to pass. Even if you find the apartment, you...

Between​ the third and fifth centuries of the Christian era the major world religions ceased to sacrifice animals to appease their gods. For reasons that remain unclear, a practice that had been central to devotional behaviour for thousands of years came to appear grotesque. Joseph Farrell observes that the practice of duelling is now similarly ‘uniformly judged as outlandish and...

Bats in Smoke: Tim Parks

Emily Gould, 2 August 2012

At some point in his mid-forties, the novelist Tim Parks developed a terrible pain, near-constant and located in embarrassing places: his lower abdomen and crotch. ‘I had quite a repertoire...

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Tim Parks’s latest novel opens in the forests of the South Tyrol, where a group of white-water enthusiasts are taking a kayaking holiday. The river is overflowing with melt water from a...

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Tucked in and under: Tim Parks

Jenny Turner, 30 September 1999

‘Can this beautiful young model be thinking?’ Tim Parks asks at one point in this book. ‘One hopes not,’ the argument continues, as Parks’s narrator looks through an...

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By an Unknown Writer

Patrick Parrinder, 25 January 1996

Italo Calvino was born in 1923 and came to prominence in post-war Italy as a writer of neo-realist and politically committed short stories, some of them published in the Communist paper

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Dangerous Faults

Frank Kermode, 4 November 1993

This is Tim Parks’s sixth novel. He has also done some serious translation – Moravia, Calvino, Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony – and written a lively book...

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Patrick Parrinder, 5 August 1993

Mythology was once defined by Robert Graves as the study of whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student’s experience that he cannot believe them to be true. Mythical...

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Nicholas Spice, 6 November 1986

Readers of John Updike’s previous novel, The Witches of Eastwick, will not have forgotten Darryl Van Horne’s bottom: how, at the end of a game of tennis, Darryl dropped his shorts and...

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