Forty years ago, Tim Parks made the bel paese his home. Italian Life is his reckoning with his adopted country, an attempt to get to the core of it, to make sense of it, to fold others' stories in with his own experience - now that he is, in his own words, 'to some degree Italian' himself.
The result is an arresting, on-the-ground account of 21st century Italy told through the eyes of a rich cast of characters, among them students from poverty-stricken Basilicata trying to start new lives in the wealthy gloom of Milan, a priest, a poet, a young professor from Padua, and an Englishman who refuses to toe the line.
At the book's centre is a story of corruption and power. But it is also a celebration of culture and history, fact and fable, sacred and secular, ancient and modern- a thought-provoking, surprising, entertaining and even definitive account of how Italy actually happens.