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Across Disciplines: Mauricio Segura

27 juillet 2020

For LatinArte’s project Vues transversales. Panorama de la scène artistique latino-québécoise (Across Disciplines: A Panorama of Latin American Art in Québec), ten artists spoke about their practice and about Montréal. Here is Mauricio Segura’s story.

Vues transversales : Mauricio Segura.

Vues transversales : Mauricio Segura.

Direction artistique : Mariza Rosales Argonza

Productrice des contenus : Angela Sierra

Recherchiste : Yseult Picard

Une production de la Fondation LatinArte en association avec le Centre d’histoire de Montréal et le Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne.

Réalisation : 
Felix Herrera

I’d say that I recognize at least a bit of myself in all of my characters, even the very worst ones.

— Mauricio Segura

Mauricio Segura

Un homme assis sur le bord d’une fenêtre écrit.

Born in Chile, Mauricio Segura is a writer, journalist, and screenwriter. When he was five years old, his family settled in Montréal’s Côte-des-Neiges district, where he grew up. He studied French and economics and later finished a PhD in French language and literature. Mauricio Segura is a member of UNEQ, Québec’s writers’ union, as well as Sartec, a union for radio, TV, and film workers. 

In his novels, Segura explores the immigrant experience, social climate and tensions in multiethnic neighbourhoods in Montréal. With a critical look at present-day realities, Seguro amplifies, unfiltered, different voices from different backgrounds and with diverging points of view.

Segura’s first novel, Black Alley, translated by Dawn Cornelio, (Biblioaisis, 2003), centres around street gangs in Côte-des-Neiges. The book delves into tensions that arise when different ethnic communities live in the same neighbourhood and highlights the difficulties new immigrants face in integrating into Québec society. This powerful book marked Segura’s debut in the Montréal literary world. The works that followed continued to illustrate the diverse world Segura inhabits. In Bouche-à-bouche (Boréal, 2003), the writer goes beside behind-the-scenes in the world of fashion and modelling. In Eucalyptus, translated into English by Donald Winkler (Biblioasis, 2010), he delves into the politics of living in South America, particularly Chile, and themes of racism and exile. In Oscar¸ also translated by Winkler (Biblioasis, 2018), Segura invites readers to discover the world of jazz through a fresco of images that shifts between a real and imagined world, an approach mirroring that of Montréal musician Oscar Peterson.

Multiethnic societies in the digital era

Segura more recently published the novel Viral (Boréal, 2020). Here, the author again looks at integration and what it means to live together in a community—previously explored in Black Alley—through interactions between cultural minorities and Québecois culture. The title, Viral, aptly reflects the book’s exploration of complex intercultural relationships and stereotypes within multiethnic societies in a social media age. The novel centres around the experience of the North African Muslim community in Québec as an altercation in a public place quickly triggers a flurry on social media. Intolerance and racism, two themes that resurface again in this work, incarnate the social fissures in modern cities. Using a range of voices and prisms, Segura creates a cast of diverse characters who might live in the same neighborhood, but have very different realities.

In Mauricio Segura’s work, diverse voices bring to light uneven power dynamics. These voices map out Montréal’s social diversity down to the finest detail. As he brings each character to life, Segura reveals personal and collective imaginaries, while challenging social dissonance. Despite polarized views, these individual narratives leave space to dream of significant change.

Référence bibliographique

ARGONZA, Mariza Rosales (dir.). Vues transversales. Panorama de la scène artistique latino-québécoise, Montréal, Éditions du CIDIHCA, 2018, 300 p.