Mauricio Montiel Figueiras

Writer of prose fiction and essays; poet, translator, editor and film and literary critic

Mauricio Montiel Figueiras (Mexico, 1968) is a writer of prose fiction and essays, as well as a poet, translator, editor and film and literary critic. He is the author of fifteen books in different genres, the most recent one of which is a memoir on depression and mental health that has won wide acclaim in Spain and Mexico. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. He has been a Resident Writer for the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in England (2003) and The Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy (2008). In 2012 he was appointed Resident Writer for the prestigious Hawthornden Retreat for Writers in Scotland. From 2011 to 2020 he worked on a Twitter novel titled The Man in Tweed. The late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño wrote of his work: “Among the Latin American writers of the new generations, Mauricio Montiel Figueiras is one of the few, counted on the fingers of one hand, who chooses the most difficult path – that of literature in its purest form, without compromise. [His fiction is like] a burning bridge that only the most daring readers cross.”

During his time at the Saari Residence, Mauricio will be working on the research and first stages of a historical novel tentatively titled No Woman is an Island, which will give voice to Rachel Chiesley, Lady Grange (1679-1745), the wife of James Erskine, Lord Grange, a Scottish lawyer with Jacobite sympathies, during her seven-year exile in St Kilda, the most remote archipelago of the Outer Hebrides – an experience of extreme solitude and utter abandonment that took place in Scotland in the eighteenth century, during the Jacobite Risings, and that to this day remains something of a mystery. To reconstruct Lady Grange’s banishment after what was called her shotgun marriage, Mauricio will use two narrative devices– her own monologues and the letters that she put in bottles and threw to the sea in vain hope of reaching the continent and getting some help. One of Mauricio’s main intentions is to emphasize the possible bipolar disorder that afflicted Lady Grange and that probably caused her violent outbursts, which eventually cost her the loss of custody of her children. Mauricio usually splits his working days in two: mornings for writing and afternoons for expanding his research – books and internet – and making notes.

Creating and promoting literature has become the core of Mauricio’s professional life – he enjoys devising and participating in literary programs and workshops. Besides literature, he’s particularly interested in film and visual arts, since for many years he has written about both subjects. One of his main goals is to help create a more accurate sense of a literary community.