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Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Riverhead Books

2008 Fiction

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz’s fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Best American Short Stories. His critically praised bestselling debut book, Drown, led to his inclusion among Newsweek’s “New Faces of 1996” – the only writer in the group. The New Yorker placed him on a list of the 20 top writers for the 21st century.

His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, National Book Critics Circle Award for best fiction of 2007, the Mercantile Library Center’s John Sargent Prize for First Novel in 2007, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2007 and Time magazine’s Book of the Year.

Díaz has also received the Eugene McDermott Award, the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship, a U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship from the NEA and most recently, the Rome Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and raised there and in New Jersey, Diaz graduated from Rutgers University and received an MFA from Cornell University. He currently resides in New York City and Boston, and is a tenured professor at MIT

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Blog Posts about Junot Díaz

A Literary President: Obama Reflects On The Books That Gave Him Stamina And Resolve

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., back in 2014. Official White House photo by Pete SouzaLate at night and through eight grueling years, literature helped sustain the outgoing president of the United States. In a wide-ranging interview with New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani, Barack Obama reflected on the centrality of reading and the titles that have given him insight and solace, particularly in fiction.  He mentions just completing Colson Whitehead's "The... Read More →

Let These Books -- From Poetry To The Political -- Kick Off Your 2017 Reading List

How does one structure a year in reading?The New York Times published the answers of 47 writers and artists who reflected on the books they chose over the past year. Their responses create a fascinating skein of reading and thinking, and include essays from four Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recipients. The entire conversation, which weaves from basketball hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to filmmaker Ava DuVernay to former House speaker Newt Gingrich to author Maxine Hong Kingston, is enlivening, a hopeful way to face into a new year.Praise for... Read More →

Public Art Inspired By Anisfield-Wolf Canon Makes A Splash Across Cleveland

Riders heading to downtown Cleveland on the RTA’s Red Line may have noticed quite a few more pops of color adorning the city landscape over the past two weeks. The colors have a story, and each story comes from a work or writer in the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award canon.Inter|Urban, the collaboration among the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation, North East Ohio Area Coordinating Agency, RTA and LAND studio, has filled the 19-mile stretch from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and into downtown Cleveland with bright, vibrant... Read More →

#WritersOnTrump Push Back On Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee

Five winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book award in fiction are standing up to publicly, “as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States.”They join Anisfield-Wolf juror Rita Dove and more than 400 writers who list eight reasons to decry Trump’s candidacy, published as an open letter on LitHub.The novelists include this year’s winner Mary Morris (The Jazz Palace), as well as Junot Diaz (The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Fall On Both Sides Of PEN American Center's Charlie Hebdo Award Controversy

More than 200 prominent authors—among them Anisfield-Wolf winners Junot Diaz and Kamila Shamsie—have publicly objected to the PEN American Center's decision to present French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo its Free Expression Courage award.  Gunmen aggrieved by the magazine’s depiction of Islam targeted the controversial Paris weekly in January and killed a dozen people. The signatories of an April letter to PEN argue that power and privilege must be considered when defining courageousness in satire: "The inequities between... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Both Attend And Object To The Brooklyn Book Festival

  Photo credit: Belem Destefani Brooklyn, N.Y. -- The Brooklyn Book Festival—a celebratory, cerebral, free event that runs one Sunday in September—attracted tens of thousands of readers, and this year, a spike of controversy. Anisfield-Wolf jurors Rita Dove and Joyce Carol Oates read from their work, soaking up warm applause, while two recent fiction winners—Junot Diaz and Kamila Shamsie—signed a petition calling on the festival to sever its support from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “It is deeply regrettable that the... Read More →

Debating The Best Book Lists: Does Amazon's "100 Books To Read In A Lifetime" Get It Right?

Wither the best book list? Inherently inane and crazy-making, these are also undeniably good conversation starters. Amazon has posted the latest iteration: its best “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” It includes two Anisfield-Wolf prize novels: Junot Diaz' “The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved," as well as James McBride’s memoir “The Color of Water.” Also on the list is the immortal “Invisible Man” from Ralph Ellison, which won an Anisfield-Wolf Landmark Achievement, and books by... Read More →

VIDEO: Junot Diaz On Winning An Anisfield-Wolf Award For "The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao"

Fresh off the paperback release of his newest work, This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz swung by Cleveland State University in October for its Cultural Crossings seminar. We caught up with our 2008 fiction winner for his reflections on winning an Anisfield-Wolf award. "It puts you in remarkably excellent company," Diaz said, and we couldn't agree more.  2008 Winner Junot Diaz Speaks On Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo. Read More →

Junot Diaz Ponders Identity And Passion For Writing At Cleveland State University Keynote

Junot Diaz did not dress up for his talk.  He wore black jeans, worn boots and his white shirttails out beneath a charcoal sweater, front and back. On an October Friday afternoon, he walked into the terraced auditorium at Cleveland State University, and leaned companionably against the wall, sipping coffee out of a disposable cup as Professor Antonio Medina-Rivera introduced him. Medina-Rivera ran through Diaz’s dizzying credentials: a full professor at M.I.T., a 2012 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, a Pulitzer Prize for his... Read More →

Junot Diaz Names 30 Books You Should Read By 30

In response to Huffington Post's list of 30 books everyone should read by 30, Junot Diaz took to his Facebook page to offer a few more suggestions:  Maxine Hong-Kingston - The Woman Warrior Leslie Marmon - Silko's Ceremony Jessica Hagedorn - Dogeaters Samuel R. Delany - Dhalgren  Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things Everything from Edwidge Danticat Octavia Butler - Kindred or Dawn Piri Thomas - Down These Mean Streets Audre Lorde's Sister... Read More →

Junot Diaz Promotes "Freedom University" On The Colbert Report

One of our most accomplished, "visible" authors has to be Junot Diaz, hands down. He is at ease on the campus of MIT (where he teaches English) as he is headlining a conference on race and culture. He is also a very vocal supporter for immigration reform and champions the rights of undocumented immigrants who are seeking a fair path to citizenship. (See more of our immigration coverage here.)  Recently Diaz was on the Colbert Report, going "toe-to-toe" with Stephen Colbert on opportunities for immigrants and giving viewers an overview of... Read More →

VIDEO: Junot Diaz Speaks On The Importance Of Libraries

As the U.S. economy continues to crawl toward recovery, more and more people find themselves at the library. Filled with resources, computers, books and programs, the local library is often one of the only places people can go to get their information needs met, and unlike most online sources, there are real live people there to offer assistance.  Writers tend to be very vocal champions for libraries, particularly these days as funding is cut while demand is highest. Earlier this year, during an author visit to his local library in Cambridge... Read More →

Junot Diaz Shares What's On His Christmas Dinner Table

We're keeping it light this week—we know everyone is busy with family and friends and the wonderfulness of the holiday season. In honor of Christmas being around the corner, we found this interview with Junot Diaz on American Public Media about his connection to his culture and how he celebrates Christmas. We particularly liked this quote about the connectedness of the holidays:  I think part of sitting down and sharing a meal with family and with the community is that food is a remarkable bonding force. When I think of that state that we... Read More →

Are There Books On Your Holiday List? Here's Three Books We Think You Should Include

If you haven't read it already, Junot Diaz' This is How You Lose Her is a terrific collection of short stories that reaffirmed NY Times book critic Michiko Kakutani belief that Diaz has "one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction."                      Multiple book critics have deemed Louise Erdrich's new novel the best she's written and that's saying a lot as her other 13 novels have been widely praised for her extraordinary storytelling skills... Read More →

In A Disaster, Do People Need Books As Much As They Need Other Supplies?

Several Nobel laureates, Libraries Without Borders and dozens of authors believe so. They are petitioning for books to be considered crucial in disaster relief. Among those who have signed the petition are Anisfield-Wolf winners Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Joyce Carol Oates and Edwidge Danticat. Patrick Weil, chairman of Libraries Without Borders, says they are urging the UN to consider "nourishment of the mind" a fundamental resource in disaster relief. This first came about after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, when the organization was... Read More →

A Look Back At Junot Diaz' Incredible Year

Junot Díaz Few writers get the opportunity to be popular and well-regarded, particularly with readers' fickle attention spans. But Junot Diaz seems to be hitting on both fronts. Diaz wrote a message of thanks to all his fans this year on his Facebook page. His list of accolades for his latest book, This is How You Lose Her, is quite impressive:  Now with the long tour over the new book is finally starting to come to life--God knows when it will get done but it's starting to pull on me again. If it takes off I might be signing off facebook in a... Read More →

Junot Diaz Presents Keynote At 2012 Facing Race Conference

Junot Díaz 2008 winner Junot Diaz recently wrapped up his book tour for his latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, at the Facing Race conference in Baltimore last week. He wrote to his fans:  "So many extraordinary activists, so many brilliant youth. Thanks to all the organizers who made it happen and to all the already-tired participants that patiently endured my keynote. You seriously rock! In other news tonight was the last day of the tour. Basically two straight months on the road, two months I was very lucky to have...It was better than anything I... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Reaction To The Election

The 2012 election cycle was filled with a bombardment of political ads, 24-hour news cycles dissecting every possible angle, and an overwhelming sense of hype surrounding who will be our next batch of elected representatives. Some of our winners got in on the action and made a few comments about the election as well.  Junot Diaz, who has been writing consistently about the Latino effect in this year's election, wrote a special message on his Facebook page. "Obama WINS!" he wrote shortly after the race had been called. "The Latino community... Read More →

VIDEO: Junot Diaz Cracks Jokes, Reads Excerpt From Latest Book At Authors @ Google

Junot Diaz made a lively appearance at Google's headquarters for its "Authors @ Google" interview series. Watch the video above and listen as Diaz reads the introduction to one of the short stories in his book, This is How You Lose Her.  Read More →

Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich Named Finalists For The National Book Awards

We keep on telling you how terrific 2012 is shaping up for Junot Diaz and the accolades keep coming. Today, he and fellow Anisfield-Wolf award winner Louise Erdrich were named as 2012 National Book Awards finalists. Watch the announcement in the video below: Read More →

Junot Diaz Wins 2012 MacArthur "Genius" Grant

We think it's safe to say that 2012 is a great year for Junot Diaz. He just released his third book to critical acclaim (and outright gratitude from the readers who wait years for new material). Now he can add being a MacArthur "genius" to his list of accomplishments.  Each year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards "genius grants" to individuals whose creativity and potential lends themselves to an investment in their future work. Each MacArthur Fellow (the formal name of the awards) receives $500,000 ($100,000 each... Read More →

Junot Diaz: "I Have Three Storage Units. All Books."

Junot Díaz Do you have to be a voracious reader to be a splendid writer? Some might argue that consuming mass quantities of the written word is the only way to a successful career as a master of it.  In his 16-year career as a novelist, Junot Diaz has only written two novels and one collection of short stories. In a recent interview with the New York Times, he confesses why it takes him so long to produce new material and where he gets the inspiration from. He also talks about his "one superpower"—reading.  On coming up with his collection of short... Read More →

VIDEO: Junot Diaz On His Book, "This Is How You Lose Her"

2008 winner Junot Diaz has his fans on the edge of their seats as they wait for his latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, to hit bookshelves in September. The collection of stories focuses on the many facets of love—maternal love, romantic love, illicit love and so on. It has gotten rave reviews from critics, including one who called it "ribald, streetwise, and stunningly moving." Diaz spoke at the author breakfast at the 2012 Book Expo and gave the audience a taste of what they could expect from the book. Check it out in the video above... Read More →

Junot Diaz Speaks On Race and Literature, Will Be Keynote Speaker At Facing Race Conference 2012

During a two-day symposium at Stanford University, Junot Diaz had the opportunity to sit down with editor Paula M.L. Moya to discuss his work and his thoughts about his intersection of race and literature. This particular answer, in response to Moya's question about whether people of color unconsciously fuel white supremacy, stood out to us:  How can you change something if you won’t even acknowledge its existence, or if you downplay its significance? White supremacy is the great silence of our world, and in it is embedded much of what... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Authors Hit The Stage At Book Expo 2012

Junot Díaz Some of our very own Anisfield-Wolf winners will be in attendance at the 2012 Book Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, June 5-7. The Book Expo is one of the largest events in the literary field, with authors, librarians, editors, and other industry professionals in attendance each year. Among the authors will be 2008 winner Junot Diaz and 2006 winner Zadie Smith. Click here for ticket information. Junot Diaz Tuesday, June 5Adult Book & Author Breakfast8:00 am – 9:30 am Special Events Hall   Zadie Smith  Thursday... Read More →

New Books From Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, and Zadie Smith

Junot Díaz Junot Diaz's short story collection This Is How You Lose Her will be published in September. It's Diaz's first book since his 2007 debut novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which, in addition to the 2008 Anisfield-Wolf award for fiction, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award. {New York Times} It hasn't been officially confirmed but the rumor mill is buzzing that Zadie Smith's latest book will be released in September. No doubt fans of White Teeth and On Beauty are waiting anxiously. {Sarah... Read More →

Junot Diaz On Why He Writes And The Power Of Perseverance

Junot Díaz What makes a writer a writer? It's a simple question with many possible answers and if you ask 10 authors, it's almost guaranteed that you'll get 10 different answers. Junot Diaz answered the question as only he can: My novel, which I had started with such hope shortly after publishing my first book of stories, wouldn't budge past the 75-page mark. Nothing I wrote past page 75 made any kind of sense. Nothing. Which would have been fine if the first 75 pages hadn't been pretty damn cool. But they were cool, showed a lot of promise. Would... Read More →
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