An Interview with Tim Parks

Tim Parks is the author of fourteen novels, including Europa (shortlisted for the Booker prize), DestinyCleaverSex Is Forbidden and, most recently, Painting Death, all of which have been translated into many languages. As well as being a novelist and the author of several works of non-fiction, Tim is the acclaimed translator of books by Moravia, Calvino, Machiavelli and other Italian writers. He’s a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. His latest book, A Literary Tour of Italy, is a collection of essays on Italian authors from Boccaccio and Machiavelli through to Moravia and Tabucchi, from the Stil Novo to Divisionism, across centuries of history and intellectual movements.

10 Questions

1) What led you into writing?

My father, an evangelical clergyman preached sermons. I suspect my novels are a kind of rebuttal.

2) What was your earliest career aspiration?

I really can’t recall any particular aspirations. My main hope has always been to get away with it. This without being sure what it is.

3) Can you describe your latest book A Literary Tour of Italy and its inspiration in thirty words?

I suppose it’s part of a lifelong attempt to pin down what is special about my adopted country, Italy, gathering together my thoughts on Italian writers, artists, even politicians.

4) Do you have any plans for your next book?

More plans than pages.

5) What has been the most exciting moment in your career?

Perhaps when I heard that my first novel, Tongues of Flame, had won a prize and would be published, after more than twenty rejections.

6) What are you reading right now?

A pile of books about consciousness.

7) If you could have dinner with any three people, past or present, who would they be?

Beckett, Henry Green, D. H. Lawrence.

8) Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?

I really can’t even begin to think of myself in another period, my identity is so much a product of this one.

9) If your house was on fire, which three books would you save from the flames?

I wouldn’t save any. You can always get new copies. I’d be worried about the people and a few paintings.

10) What do you do to relax?

Concerts and canoeing, whenever possible.

Visit Tim Parks’ website at

Find out more about A Literary Tour of Italy (new in paperback)

Find out more about A Literary Tour of Italy (hardback)