Miguel Syjuco is a Filipino freelance writer living in Montreal. He’s interested in how fiction can be used to examine complicated issues such as cultural identity, sexuality, religion, personal freedom, and political corruption. His protagonists are a means to understand often disagreeable ideas, and his work seeks to unpack the rationalizations we humans must make to live with ourselves. Syjuco is also interested in the possibilities that come from mashing together polarities—East and West, highbrow and lowbrow.
During his fellowship, Syjuco is completing a novel. Using a female protagonist’s colorful rise to the top of a fictional society based on his home country of the Philippines, he examines different facets of power and how they comingle, conflict, and contradict. Through satire and parody, Syjuco hopes to examine his own biases, justifications, and limitations as a male writer to better understand gender politics in developing societies.
Syjuco’s debut novel, Ilustrado (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, the Filipino Readers’ Choice Award, the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Man Asian Literary Prize and will be translated into more than 15 languages. Syjuco, who earned a PhD in literature from the University of Adelaide, has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and the Santa Maddalena Foundation and grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. He is the literary editor of the Manila Review and a member of the Folio Prize Academy.