Tim Parks Launches Latest Italian Memoir
words by Carol King
The latest Italian memoir by celebrated author Tim Parks will be released on 10 June in the USA. It was released on 6 June in the UK.
Called ‘Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo’, the novel is said to be “a wry and revealing portrait of Italian life.” The book is the first travelogue from the best-selling author of ‘Italian Neighbours, or, a Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona’.
‘Italian Ways’ follows Parks’ train journeys to deliver a portrait of Italy. En route, the British author writes of his encounters with ordinary Italians, including ticket collectors, priests, prostitutes, gypsies and immigrants. The book explores how trains helped build Italy and how their development reflects Italians’ sense of themselves from Giuseppe Garibaldi to Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi. Parks writes, “To see the country by train is to consider the crux of the essential Italian dilemma: Is Italy part of the modern world, or not?”
Parks says of: ‘‘Italian Ways’: Everything has changed on the trains in the last ten years. The ticketing most of all, then the fast trains, and of course, Milano Centrale, which has been totally refurbished. Yet in a way, of course, nothing has changed. And I realised that this was what I could write about, how all the changes of the last ten years, with all the crazy economics and politics behind them, were yet another manifestation of the Italian way of doing things.
“I wrote fast and with great pleasure. I can’t remember having so much fun writing. To complete the book, I awarded myself a long train holiday down south, from Rome to Palermo, from Modica to Syracuse, to Crotone, to Taranto, to Lecce. I discovered the Ferrovie Sud Est, I discovered that the south is infinitely more attractive than we in the north tend to think of it.”
Parks has lived in Italy since 1980. His novels include ‘Europa’, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and he is the author of several non-fiction accounts of life in Italy, including ‘Italian Neighbours, or, a Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona’, ‘Italian Education: the Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona’, ‘Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence’ and ‘A Season With Verona’. During his years in Italy, Parks has translated works by Italo Calvino, Roberto Calasso, Alberto Moravia, and Niccolò Machiavelli. He is a regular contributor to the ‘New York Review of Books’.