Maceo Montoya grew up in Elmira, California. He comes from a family of artists, including his father Malaquias Montoya, a renowned artist, activist, and educator, and his late brother, Andrés Montoya, whose poetry collection The Iceworker Sings and Other Poems won the American Book Award in 2000. Maceo graduated from Yale University in 2002 and received his Master of Fine Arts in visual art from Columbia University in 2006.
Montoya’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been featured in exhibitions throughout the country as well as internationally. His artwork has appeared in a range of publications, including seventeen drawings in historian David Montejano's Sancho's Journal (University of Texas Press 2012), an ethnography of the Brown Berets in San Antonio. Montoya also collaborated with poet Laurie Ann Guerrero to create a series of paintings based on sonnets dedicated to her late grandfather. The resulting book, A Crown for Gumecindo, was published by Aztlán Libre Press in 2015.
Montoya’s first novel, The Scoundrel and the Optimist (Bilingual Review, 2010), was awarded the 2011 International Latino Book Award for “Best First Book” and Latino Stories named him one of its "Top Ten New Latino Writers to Watch." In 2014, University of New Mexico Press published his second novel, The Deportation of Wopper Barraza, and Copilot Press published Letters to the Poet from His Brother, a hybrid book combining images, prose poems, and essays. You Must Fight Them, a novella and story collection, was published by University of New Mexico Press in 2015 and was named a finalist for Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. TheLatinoAuthor.com cited it as one of its “Top Ten Best Fiction Books by Latino Authors for 2015.” Montoya's latest publication, Chicano Movement for Beginners, is a work of graphic nonfiction.
Montoya is an associate professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at UC Davis where he teaches the Chicana/o Mural Workshop and courses in Chicano Literature. He is also an affiliated faculty member of Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer (TANA), a community-based arts organization located in Woodland, CA.