On the Caribbean Periphery of American Letters

November 27, 2012 (Tuesday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

On the Caribbean Periphery of American Letters

Junot Díaz

Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Junot Díaz calls his building blocks "African diasporic, migrant, Caribbean, Dominican, Jersey Boy." Raised in the Dominican Republic and a working-class neighborhood of northern New Jersey, Díaz published his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, to tremendous acclaim, winning the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007, the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, and a host of other awards. The New Yorker has named him one of the 20 most important writers of the 21st century.

Díaz is also known for Drown (1996), a collection of stories that Boston Review called an "exemplary chapter in the novel of American Empire." His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Story, The Paris Review, in several of the anthologies The Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII, and in The O'Henry Prize Stories 2009.

This year, Díaz adds to his honors a 2012 MacArthur "genius" grant. In naming him one of 23 academics, artists, and scientists to receive this award, the Foundation said of his fiction that it offers "powerful insight into the realities of the Caribbean diaspora, American assimilation, and lives lived between cultures."

Join us as Junot Díaz talks about the cultural geography of the American literary scene and his personal migration from its margins to its centers. He will also read from his new collection of stories, This Is How You Lose Her (click here for the 9/20/12 NYT review). A book signing follows.