Mario Bellatin grew up in Peru as the son of Peruvian parents. He spent two years studying theology at the seminary Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo and graduated from the University of Lima. In 1987, Bellatin moved to Cuba, where he studied screenplay writing at the International Film School Latinoamericana. On his return to Mexico in 1995, he became the director of the area of Literature and Humanities at the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana and became a member of the National System of Creators of Art from 1999 to 2005. He is currently the director of the Dynamic School of Writers in Mexico City.
Mario Bellatin is celebrated as a leading voice in Spanish fiction for his experimental and fragmented writing, which artfully intertwines reality and creation. His work is known in many parts of the world, with translations into English, German, French and Malayalam. However, while he has participated in writing workshops around the United States, his work is underrepresented in the English-speaking world.
As a result of a birth defect that left him missing much of his right arm, a good portion of his fiction concerns characters that are deformed or diseased or with an uncertain sexual identity.
Bellatin was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "To me literature is a game, a search for ways to break through borders. But in my work the rules of the game are always obvious, the guts are exposed, and you can see what is being cooked up.”