Dacia Maraini

Portrait Dacia Maraini
Dacia Maraini [© Henning Klüver]

Dacia Maraini was born in 1936 in the Tuscan town of Fiesole, near Florence. In 1938, she moved with her parents to Japan, where her father, Fosco Maraini, carried out his ethnological studies. The family was interned in successive camps due to the fact that father and mother didn’t accept to sign the support to the fascist regime. In 1946 they returned to Italy, where Maraini grew up in the Sicilian town of Bagheria and, following her parents’ divorce, with her mother in Palermo.

Maraini had already begun writing at the age of 13 for the paper of La scuola Garibaldi of Palermo. At 18 she moved to Rome to live with her father, where she published her first short stories and in 1957 co-founded the journal »Tempo di letteratura«.

Her debut novel »La vacanza« [Eng. »The Holiday«, 1962] became an immediate bestseller and was translated into more than a dozen languages. The empathy of Maraini’s prose is key; she describes the youthful longing of her adolescent protagonist Anna, who loses her childish innocence during a summer holiday offering both ennui and escapades and, for the first time, becomes aware of an existential void to which the ambiguous title alludes. Moreover, the author, just 17 at the time she produced the first draft of this novel, confronts such volatile subjects as female sexuality as well as society in Mussolini’s fascist Italy. In the early 1960s she encountered Alberto Moravia, author of such books as »The Conformist« and »Contempt«. During their long partnership they undertook extensive travels, often joined by others in their intellectual circle, such as Pier Paolo Pasolini. In the 1970s, Maraini became active in the political sphere, committed to equal opportunity and women’s rights – concerns which are also visible throughout her literary work. To date, Maraini has published 21 novels as well as volumes of short stories, poetry, and essays. She has also created dramas and screenplays, including Pasolini’s »A Thousand and One Nights« [1974]. Female figures, both historical and contemporary, are often at the heart of her prose, frequently standing up to violence and bourgeois conformity. In »Il treno dell’ultima note« [Eng. »Train to Budapest«, 2008] Maraini confronts the processing of the Shoah during the Cold War. Her most recent novel, »Trio« [2020] tells the story of unconditional friendship between two women throughout the plague in 18th-century Messina.

Since 2006, Maraini has served as editor of the literary journal »Nuovi Argomenti« founded by Carocci, Moravia, and Pasolini. She has received honorary doctorates from Middlebury College in Vermont, from John Cabot University in Rome, from Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Università LʼOrientale di Napoli, as well as the universities of L’Aquila and Foggia. She was also awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1996, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, and received the Premio Campiello for her life’s work in 2012.

Dacia Maraini lives in Rome.

Date: 2022