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Tim Parks Biography

(1954– ), Tongues of Flame, Loving Roger, Home Thoughts, Family Planning, Cara Massimina, John MacDowell

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British novelist, born in Manchester, educated at Cambridge and Harvard Universities. He received instant critical acclaim with his first two novels, Tongues of Flame (1985; Somerset Maugham Award), a powerful study of a family torn apart by the confusions of religious and sexual hysteria; and Loving Roger (1986), which deals with an obsessional love affair that ends in death. The author's ambivalent attitude to the origins of evil, his compassion and precision, give his created world an awful credibility. Home Thoughts (1989) is set in Italy; Family Planning (1990), gives an account of the madness which overtakes Raymond Baldwin, an eldest son, and examines the influence of family life on mental breakdown. As in all his work, moral responsibilities are brought under the author's scrutiny and the result is a disturbing analysis of an appalling dilemma. In Cara Massimina (1990, originally published as John MacDowell), set in Italy, a kidnap is the prelude to several murders; these continue in Mimi's Ghost (1995) which shares a protagonist now confirmed as a serial killer in an attempt to cover the tracks of his first crime. Goodness (1991), an exploration of euthanasia, centres on a self-obsessed careerist faced with the birth of a severely disabled daughter. Shear (1993) offers a vivid psychological study of personal disintegration through the portrait of a man engulfed in an unmanageable emotional and sexual life. Parks has lived in Italy since the early 1980s where he has translated works by Italian writers, including Alberto Moravia's Erotic Tales (1983), and Italo Calvino's The Road to San Giovanni (1993) and Numbers in the Dark (1995). His Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona appeared in 1992.

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