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**
‘The best interpreter of Italian ways in Italy’
‘Parks is more than just an effortless raconteur: he offers detailed cultural observation, witty yet eagle-eyed, of what makes Italians so Italian’
‘All Italy is here, its history, its character, its flaws’
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
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