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Biography of Dacia Maraini

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Dacia Maraini

From the Tuscan Sun to the Lost in Tokyo
Biography of Dacia Maraini

She is one of the most important figures of Italian modern literature. Her multiple works focused on women’s issues have been translated to more than 30 languages, and with almost 80 years, she’s still active. Dacia Maraini is one of Italy’s favorite figures in recent times.

Subject of the 2013 documentary I Was Born Traveling, Dacia Maraini was born in in Fiesole, Tuscany on November 13, 1936. With a rich background -- She is the daughter of Sicilian Princess Topazia Alliata di Salaparuta, an artist and art dealer, and of Fosco Maraini, a Florentine ethnologist and mountaineer of mixed Ticinese, English and Polish ancestry – Dacia has used her life experience to leave her footprint in Italian literature.

When she was just two-years-old, her family moved to Japan to escape Fascism. However, luck wasn’t on their side as the family was interned in a Japanese concentration camp in Nagoya from 1943 to 1946 for refusing to recognize Mussolini's Republic of Salò, allied with the Empire of Japan. After the war, the family returned to Italy and lived in Sicily with her mother’s family in the town of Bagheria, province of Palermo.

Dacia then moved to Rome, a city that broadened her vision of the world. Her first novel, La vacanza, was published in 1962, and the second, L’età del malessere, won the International Formentor Prize in 1963 and was translated into twelve languages. In 1966, Maraini, Moravia and Enzo Siciliano founded the del Porcospino ("Porcupine") theatrical company which had as its mission the production of new Italian plays. Later on, in 1973, she helped to found the Teatro della Maddalena which was run by women only.

Most of her works have been inspired by her travels across the world. According to her, writing and travelling are both forms of illness and a therapy, giving her also a perspective “look from afar and perhaps (to) see things better”.

During her life, Dacia has been publishing novels, short stories, plays, several investigative studies, and collections of poetry and essays. Amongst her more important are Memoirs of a Female Thief (1973); Woman at War (1975); Letters to Marina (1980); The Train (1984); Isolina (1985); The Silent Duchess (1990); Traveling in the Gait of a Fox (1983-1991); Bagheria (1993), a narrative memoir on Sicily, and Cercando Emma (1994)

In 2013 Maraini’s most recent novel was published, Chiara di Assisi. Elogio della disobbedienza, an intimate and provocative book about the encounter of a great writer who has made the word its own tool to describe reality and an intelligent and strong-willed woman to whom the word has been denied.

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