Thursday, September 19, 2013

Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His debut story collection, Drown was a national bestseller and won numerous awards. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times called Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao “a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices.” Díaz's latest book is This Is How You Lose Her.

From his Q & A with Jacob Sugarman at Salon:

A few months back, Claire Messud lit into a Publishers Weekly interviewer for suggesting the protagonist of her latest novel wasn’t especially likable. She argued that we’d never question whether we like Raskolnikov or any of Jonathan Franzen’s characters or even Oscar Wao. Does she have a point?

I’m going from hearsay here, but I can imagine the sort of umbrage she took. There’s a profound trivialization of literature in the way that it is used and, yes, if you’re a woman or a person of color, there are certain biases that are built in. There’s no fucking question.

But I get people saying “I don’t like Yunior” or “I don’t like Oscar” all the time. When people say that to me, I always remind them that in the same way that I’m a more complex person when I write, you’re a more complex person when you read. The real question for me as the writer is why you’re friends with the people you’re friends with. Most of us are friends with people we don’t like, so what’s the big deal? We’re used to hanging out with people we don’t like, so this should be...[read on]
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is among Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue