Fulvio Tomizza
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ulvio Tomizza was born on January 26, 1935 in Giurizzana, a village near Materada in the municipality of Umag which gave its name to his first novel.  

Having received his high school diploma in the classics at Capodistria, he moved to Trieste at the age of 20 as a consequence of the Memorandum of  London which returned Trieste to Italy after his homeland [Istria] was ceded to Yugoslavia.


born in Giurizzani

Tomizza began his career as a writer in 1960.  While still editor of the local newscast, he published Materada, which attracted the attention of most major Italian critics.

La ragazza di Petrovia and Il bosco di acacie followed, and were then bound with the novel Materada into a single volume called Trilogia istriana.  In 1965, with the novel La quinta stagione, he received the "Premio Selezione Campiello" and four years later, with L’albero dei sogni, won the "Premio Viareggio" for fiction.  The 1970 collection of dreamlike stories called La torre capovolta can almost be considered a sequel to L’albero dei sogni.

The "Premio Fiera Letteraria" was awarded for his 1972 novel La città di Miriam, whereas for the next book, Dove tornare, he received the Venetian "Campiello" once more.  The most enthusiastic approval to date was shown La miglior vita in 1977.  The novel had a total printing of 400,000 copies in Italy, won the "Premia Strega", and by 1990 was translated into ten languages.  In 1979, the German translation won Tomizza the Austrian "Staatspreis für Europäische Literatur", a prize that had previously gone to such authors as Havel, Ionesco, Italo Calvino, Simone de Beauvoir, Friederich Dürrenmatt and which subsequently has been awarded to Giorgio Manganelli and Milan Kundera.


While writing and publishing the novels L’Amicizia and La finzione di Maria in 1980 and 1981 respectively, Fulvio Tomizza had already begun historical research for the huge epic Il male viene dal Nord that was based on the character of the bishop-turned-Protestant Pier Paolo Vergerio who was born in Capodistria.  In 1984, the year of its publication, the University of Trieste bestowed an honorary doctorate in humanities on the Istrian writer "for the elevated  artistic level of his intense narrative works in which - reaffirming his motivation - he has become the incisive, original interpreter of a culture based on the values of peoples living in peaceful harmony".

In 1985, all the works which had been written within a span of 30 years were collected in a single volume entitled Ieri, un Secolo Fà.  In 1986, he returned to the realm of fiction with Gli sposi di Via Rossetti, Tragedia in una minoranza which won him another "Premio Selezione Campiello", the international prize "Vilenica" of the Association of Slovene Writers, and the "Ascona" Prize of Italian Swiss writers, which was bestowed during the annual meeting of the International Pen Club (dedicated in 1987 to the theme "Literature of the Frontier").

In his final years, Tomizza wrote the narratives Quando Dio uscì di chiesa - Vita e fede di un borgo istriano dell‘500 (Mondadori), Poi venne Cernobyl (Masilio), and, with the editor Bompiani, L’Ereditiera veneziana, Fughe incrociate, I rapporti colpevoli (Selezione Campiello and Giovanni Boccaccio prizes), L’Abate Roys e il fatto innominabile and Alle  spalle di Trieste.

Tomizza in his studio in Trieste, with his grandchild Elisabetta

Of his theatrical works, Vera Verk (1963) marks the first cultural alliance between Trieste and the neighboring republics of Slovenia and Croatia.  L'Idealista, a free dramatization of the Slovenian classic Ivan Cankar, was performed in major Italian and Yugoslav cities and inaugurated the 1983-84 prose season of the Volkstheater of Vienna.

His children’s stories include La pulce in gabbia; Trick, storia di un cane (Mondadori); Anche le pulci hanno la tosse (Edizione E. Elle) and Il gatto Martino (Editori Lisciani & Giunti).  With several novels and a single novella to his credit, Tomizza has been translated in the U.S., Brazil, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Rumania, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Holland, Russia and even in Esperanto.

In 1996, with the novel Dal luogo del sequestro, he returned to his first editor Arnoldo Mondadori who then published the bestseller Franziska, and posthumously in 1999, La visitatrice, and in 2000 Nel chiaro della notte and La casa col mandorlo

Fulvio Tomizza died on May 21, 1999 in Trieste and was buried in his family's plot in Materada, Istria.

Works, awards and media coverage


  • Tomb - http://www.inet.hr/~gpozzecc/page_02.htm (no longer online)
  • Top and bottom - courtesy of  Fulvio Tomizza
  • Photo source: http://web.tin.it/arici/photo/lettsto/tomizza.html (no longer available)
  • Cartoon by Franco Juri - http://www.osservatoriobalcani.org/article/articleview/11385/1/67

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Created: Wednesday, April 13, 2000. Last Updated: Friday, August 07, 2015
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