We are thrilled to welcome to campus another literary sensation as the third speaker in our 2017 series, Undercurrent. Junot Diaz has captivated audiences since his short story collection Drown in 1996 followed by Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2007. Diaz regularly contributes to The New Yorker and is a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant. Diaz will be joining us Wednesday, February 22nd at Shriver Hall so catch up on all of his fantastic work and make sure to bring a copy of a book (or two) for a signing!
Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2008): The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Synopsis: Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim - until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.
With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey's Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere - and to risk it all - in the name of love.
This is How You Lose Her (2012)
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.
In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”
The NeW Yorker: "Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon"
In the days following the election of President Trump, Diaz penned a letter to his sister calling for resilience in the face of immigrant backlash. Here is an excerpt of the letter:
NPR Interview With Terry Gross
On why slang is so important in his writing: