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  • Published: 30 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787302136
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $48.00

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.

  • Published: 30 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787302136
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $48.00

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.

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

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