Roberto Moulun, M.D., award-winning author and longtime resident of Lake Chapala, died Monday, September 30, 2013, in Ajijic at the age of 89. He was a native of Guatemala and a retired psychiatrist from Hawaii.
Moulun’s book The Iguana Speaks My Name is set in Guatemala during the 1960-1996 civil war, which resulted in 200,000 indigenous people killed or missing. The title novella and ten separate short stories use fictional village characters to examine the epic topics of war and peace, love and loss.
Published in 2012, the book received accolades in the USA and in Mexico. It won the prestigious 2013 Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Best First Book of Fiction, awarded by the Independent Book Publishers Association in the USA. Highly-respected Kirkus Reviews in New York City named it one of the top 25 independent books of 2012.
In addition to his book Moulun wrote many short stories published by El Ojo del Lago, winning three annual awards for best fiction. He was working on publishing a new collection of stories before being diagnosed with inoperable cancer this summer.
Survivors are his daughter Renee and her husband Bart, of Portland, Oregon, and his granddaughter Maria Hanna, also of Portland; his third wife Monica, of Ajijic, and his two stepchildren, Marta and Ivan, also of Ajijic.
Born to a Spanish mother and French father in Guatemala, Moulun grew up on the family coffee plantation, imbued with a love of music and literature. He was a child prodigy on the violin and performed solo concertos in Guatemala City when he was only five. At age eight, he read The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe, M.D., which set the course for his life in many ways.
He received his college degree at age fifteen—the youngest graduate at that time in the history of Instituto Modelo, Guatemala City. Three years later he earned his medical degree from the National University of Mexico, Mexico City, becoming one of the youngest medical doctors ever from the respected university.
His USA post-doctoral studies and medical residency included several years at the prestigious Menninger Foundation, School of Psychiatry, Topeka, Kansas. In 1962 he moved to Hawaii and became Chief of Services and Psychiatric Supervisor at Hawaii State Hospital in Honolulu, where he maintained a private practice. He was a volunteer member of International Red Cross disaster teams, and also an honorary member of the Guatemalan diplomatic corps. During his years in Hawaii, Moulun became an avid ocean sailor, and he and the crew of his Cal 40 Seafire won the Hawaii Yacht Club championship one year.
After retiring from medical practice, Moulun traveled to Guatemala and lived among villagers before the civil war forced him to leave his homeland forever. He returned to Hawaii and wrote the stories for the book from 1993-1996, then moved to Ajijic in 1999.
A lengthy video interview with Moulun is available on the Internet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M19OrrTv00Q, with more information at http://www.egretbooks.com/moulun.
Obituary written by Mikel Miller
(Ed. Note: With the passing of Roberto, an entire epoch in the creative life of our community has ended. An event celebrating his extraordinary life will be held on Nov. 16 at 2:30 on the back patio of the LCS. This magazine has lost one of its most talented writers, and I have lost an irreplaceable friend.)
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com