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Tucked in and under

Jenny Turner: Tim Parks, 30 September 1999

Destiny 
by Tim Parks.
Secker, 249 pp., £15.99, September 1999, 0 436 22088 1
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... Can this beautiful young model be thinking?’ Tim Parks asks at one point in this book. ‘One hopes not,’ the argument continues, as Parks’s narrator looks through an airline magazine, ‘You do not think, I thought, seeing pictures of people pleasure-making on the beach, perhaps in an advertisement for rum or Martini ...

Bats in Smoke

Emily Gould: Tim Parks, 2 August 2012

Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing 
by Tim Parks.
Vintage, 335 pp., £8.99, July 2011, 978 0 09 954888 1
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The Server 
by Tim Parks.
Harvill Secker, 288 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 577 0
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... At some point in his mid-forties, the novelist Tim Parks developed a terrible pain, near-constant and located in embarrassing places: his lower abdomen and crotch. ‘I had quite a repertoire of pains at this point: a general smouldering tension throughout the abdomen, a sharp jab in the perineum, an electric shock darting down the inside of the thighs, an ache in the small of the back, a shivery twinge in the penis itself ...

Sugar-Sticky

Gabriele Annan: Anita Desai, 27 May 1999

Fasting, Feasting 
by Anita Desai.
Chatto, 240 pp., £14.99, June 1999, 0 7011 6894 3
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... When Tim Parks reviewed Salman Rushdie’s latest novel, The Ground beneath Her Feet, in the New York Review of Books he grumbled ‘that the sheer quantity of events that crowd these 575 pages is such as to overwhelm any depiction of inner life or any mind’s attempt to grasp the half of them’. By the end of his piece he is thoroughly exasperated: ‘By making the double gesture of appearing clear-sighted and then filling his pages with supernatural incident and metaphysical muddle that could mean anything or nothing, Rushdie, and many like him [my italics], play to those who, while understandably unwilling to subscribe to any belief so well defined as to be easily knocked down, nevertheless yearn to have all the mystical balls kept perpetually spinning in the air before them ...

Tight in the Cockpit

Joanna Kavenna: Tim Parks’s ‘The Rapids’, 5 May 2005

Rapids 
by Tim Parks.
Secker, 246 pp., £15.99, March 2005, 0 436 20559 9
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... Tim Parks’s latest novel opens in the forests of the South Tyrol, where a group of white-water enthusiasts are taking a kayaking holiday. The river is overflowing with melt water from a thawing glacier, and the kayakers find themselves endangered by the force of the current, as the river runs ever faster and fuller ...

Dangerous Faults

Frank Kermode, 4 November 1993

Shear 
by Tim Parks.
Heinemann, 214 pp., £13.99, August 1993, 0 434 57745 6
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... This is Tim Parks’s sixth novel. He has also done some serious translation – Moravia, Calvino, Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony – and written a lively book about his life in Italy. And now, by way of explaining the highly technical lexicon of Shear, he tells us in an Author’s Note that he did ‘years of work for the Italian quarrying industry’: consequently ‘a huge burden of geological/mechanical vocabulary ...

By an Unknown Writer

Patrick Parrinder, 25 January 1996

Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Tim Parks.
Cape, 276 pp., £15.99, November 1995, 0 224 03732 3
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... Italo Calvino was born in 1923 and came to prominence in post-war Italy as a writer of neo-realist and politically committed short stories, some of them published in the Communist paper L’Unità. A major social-problem novel set in contemporary Italy was naturally expected of him, but he found himself unable to write it. Instead, as he subsequently explained, he ‘conjured up’ the sort of books he himself would have liked to read – ‘the sort by an unknown writer, from another age and another country, discovered in an attic ...

Slammed by Hurricanes

Jenny Turner: Elsa Morante, 20 April 2017

The World Saved by Kids: And Other Epics 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Cristina Viti.
Seagull, 319 pp., £19.50, January 2017, 978 0 85742 379 5
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... cover (a photo of a little boy), a bestseller a second time over. ‘Morante’s subject​ ,’ Tim Parks wrote in PN Review in the 1980s, ‘is the fairly common one of the child, every child, who grows up, grows away from the beauties and innocence of infancy to the complications and very often horrors of adult life, of consciousness, of ...

Underparts

Nicholas Spice, 6 November 1986

Roger’s Version 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 316 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 233 97988 3
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The Voyeur 
by Alberto Moravia, translated by Tim Parks.
Secker, 186 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 436 28721 8
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Dvorak in Love 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 322 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 7011 2994 8
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Moments of Reprieve 
by Primo Levi, translated by Ruth Feldman.
Joseph, 172 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2726 9
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... Readers of John Updike’s previous novel, The Witches of Eastwick, will not have forgotten Darryl Van Horne’s bottom: how, at the end of a game of tennis, Darryl dropped his shorts and thrust his hairy rump into his partner’s face, demanding that she kiss it, which she did. In Roger’s Version the roles are reversed. Now it is a young woman – Verna Ekelof – who exposes herself ...

Democratic Warming

Tom Nairn: The Upstaging of the G8, 4 August 2005

... it, doesn’t it have renewed plausibility, notably in the case of politicians who combine, as Tim Parks recently put it in the New York Review of Books, ‘a skilful use of rhetoric with a tendency to bully and then to seek approval for having bullied in a positive way’? Buses ferried thousands of scribes up from Edinburgh and Glasgow to a tented ...

Rapture

Patrick Parrinder, 5 August 1993

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony 
by Roberto Calasso, translated by Tim Parks.
Cape, 403 pp., £19.99, June 1993, 9780224030373
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... Mythology was once defined by Robert Graves as the study of whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student’s experience that he cannot believe them to be true. Mythical stories are disturbing and invite disbelief; but our own myths are so taken for granted as to be largely invisible. Conventional encyclopedias of mythology exclude Biblical narratives ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah, 4 November 2004

Ghosting 
by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... into novels – Penelope Fitzgerald, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Beryl Bainbridge, William Trevor, Tim Parks among others – to limber up. Then she rolled up her sleeves and having extracted the technical nuts and bolts (beginning, middle, end; main and subsidiary plot and characters), wrote Naim Attallah’s novel in six ...

I don’t even get bananas

Madeleine Schwartz: Christina Stead, 2 November 2017

The Man Who Loved Children 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 528 pp., £10, April 2016, 978 1 78497 148 9
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Letty Fox: Her Luck 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 592 pp., £14, May 2017, 978 1 78669 139 2
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... please.’Stead’s ability to copy mannerisms and sound is in full view in Letty Fox, as Tim Parks notes in his introduction. The book is a long satirical account of the life of a young woman in 1940s Manhattan, drawn from the world Stead knew through Blake and the years she spent living with him on 14th Street. We know exactly where we are as ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy, 16 November 2017

... of indeterminacy of many younger people, their rejection of fixity and concerns with fluidity. Tim Parks, a translator as well as a writer of fiction, says in The Novel: A Survival Skill that ‘we involve ourselves in ongoing relationships with writers and position ourselves in relation to them and the kind of stories they tell, much as we position ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!, 11 October 2018

This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... as he chose to do when he created Wizard of the Crow in Gikuyu before rewriting it in English. Tim Parks has vehemently attacked global literature as a monstrous birth of publishing corporatism, as writers in the world beyond the Anglosphere keep a weather eye on translatability into the huge English reading market: ‘At the moment we are passing ...

Diary

Tim Gardam: New Conservatism, 13 June 1991

... from a politically-aware National Trust – not a bad model, perhaps, in a nation of theme parks and garden ...

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