(Manchester, 1954) grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. Since 1981 he has lived in Italy, where he teaches literary translation at IULM university, Milan. He is the author of fourteen novels including Europa (1997) which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. A corrosive exposé of EC hypocrisy, Europa is narrated by savagely unhappy Jerry Marlowe who, together with his former mistress and a bus full of feckless colleagues and students, undertakes a journey to Strasbourg to petition to save a job that Jerry does not believe in. In the 1990s Parks wrote two personal accounts of life in northern Italy, Italian Neighbours and An Italian Education (published in the Netherlands in 2002,), and some years later A Season with Verona, which set out to describe Italy through the way the country engages with football. All three books achieve an exhilarating anthropological precision while the narrative voice oscillates between an insider's and an outsider's point of view. His most recent book, Teach Us To Sit Still, is the thought-provoking and highly entertaining story of the author's quest to overcome ill health. Parks has also translated works by Machiavelli, Moravia, Tabucchi, Calvino and Calasso and writes regularly on translation issues. His Translating Style, an analysis of Italian translations of English modernists is used as teaching material in a number of universities. Parks also publishes in the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books.(nov 2010)
Archive available for: Tim Parks
'I have a problem with the growing internationalisation of literature,' the British writer Tim Parks recently argued in an interview with Bas Heijne in NRC Handelsblad. On Thursday 20 January 2011 he opened the Winternachten Festival.
'Writers don't aim at local situations and local issues, because an international audience isn't interested in them. That makes the literature change.' And that's what worries Parks. He fears that literature will deteriorate into an impersonal message for a readership of merely outsiders. 'When you read those kinds of books you don't have the feeling of looking in on someone else, of ending up in another culture. That makes a lot of literature superficial and untruthful.'
In his Winternachten Lecture Tim Parks elaborated on his disquieting observation. Because many questions remain to be answered. What choice do writers have? Do they have to restrict themselves to the same patterns? Are cultures still so isolated that this is the result? And what about writers who have become estranged and left behind their native soil and culture?
Abdelkader Benali talked to Parks after his lecture and put his views to David van Reybrouck, Maaza Mengiste and Elif Batuman.
This was the first evening in the festival, and the official opening. Before the lecture by Tim Parks, writer Nelleke Noordervliet, chairperson of the festival board, gave the opening speech
Books are brainchildren. Few writers will argue with that. Until such time when the body no longer agrees with this division of labour and starts making havoc. This happened to the British writer Tim Parks. Physical problems forced him to a self-analysis on the relationship between body and mind. He wrote a book about this all-embracing experience Teach Us to Sit Still. He will talk to Wim Brands and Gerbrand Bakker, writer of June, The Detour and the award-winning The Twin, who recently wrote on his weblog: "A good friend had sculpted a bronze statuette and gave it to me as a present. It is a statuette of a writer working in a somewhat awkward pose. "Yes", I said, "I'd love to have it". Because I thought it was beautiful, but also because metaphorically I thought it said something about the way I write, or who I am in general terms. A conversation about writing and physical discomfort. In English.
In the second hour of De Avonden poet and performer Hagar Peeters tells how she incorporates Utopian Thinking in her new book Wasdom. Writer and cabaret artist Martijn Knol writes a manual of how we can indeed build a new Utopia together for the 21st century. It is a passionate and concrete plea for a new world community. Motivational speaker and spoken word artist Omékongo Dibinga will convince the audience in a short performance that personal happiness is within reach. Tim Parks and David Mitchell talk to each other on the need of the imagination of a better world in their own work. Hosts: Jeroen van Kan and Catherine van Campen. Broadcast live on VPRO Radio. In Dutch and English.