Writer in Residence Programme 2011

Tim Parks’ stay in Amsterdam

15 Jun-15 July 2011

Tim Parks has written fourteen novels including Europa (shortlisted for the Booker prize), Destiny, Cleaver and, most recently, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, all of them published in half a dozen countries.

Born in Manchester in 1954, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. In 1981 he moved to Italy where he has lived ever since with his family. The translation of his last novel by Saskia van der Lingen and Caroline Meijer, Dromen over zee├źn en rivieren was published by De Arbeiderspers in 2008; recently followed by Leer ons stil te zitten (translation by Lidy Pol of Teach Us to Sitt Still).

During his years in Italy, Parks has translated works by Moravia, Calvino, Calasso and Machiavelli and written widely on the subject; his book, Translating Style, which analyses Italian translations of the English modernists, is considered a classic in its field and he currently runs a post-graduate degree in translation at IULM university in Milan. His new topic of interest is set at the crossroads of literature and translation studies as he is now heading a research project about the globalization of literature.

In the Winternachten lecture given by Parks in January 2011 the central idea was that the author no longer perceives his audience as local, national, but as international. A writer is not famous today unless internationally famous, not recognized unless recognized everywhere. Even the recognition extended to him in his home country is significantly increased if he is recognized abroad. It is the challenge of Tim Parks and his team to find out what the consequences of this shift are. It might be true that writing for a world stage unconsciously or not makes novelists write a different kind of books. For example if an agent tries to sell the foreign rights of a Dutch novel, it must fit in with the image of Holland worldwide. Would this mean that writers slowly start to adapt their work into something that fits well in the picture?

The next step in this project is to leave the university to do some hands-on research. In Amsterdam Parks intends to study sales of Dutch and foreign books at Athenaeum bookshop by interviewing customers about their sense of being part of an international audience. Their response will be incorporated into academic articles and finally included in the book that will be compiled as the result of the research project.

Fleur van Koppen


Fleur van Koppen

Programme officer

[email protected]