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An interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz

We spoke with him about fiction, politics and language.

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We spoke with Junot Diaz, a Pulitzer-Prize winning fiction author, near his appearance at the Indianapolis Public Library. Diaz is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award), and This Is How You Lose Her. To top it off, he is a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist.

Emily Taylor: How has writing developed your relationship with the English language? What about your experience as an immigrant?

Junot Diaz: Writing allows me to explore my troubled relationship with both English and Spanish. I was never any good at languages and learned English with great difficulty and then lost Spanish and relearned, again with difficulty. There’s something about language and loss that for me is deeply personal and which my writing seems to return to.

Emily:  Where do you see your writing going under our current political climate? How is it influencing you and the things you publish?


Junot: Shit if I know. I’m still trying to deal with what happened to me when I was a teenager. There’s something of a thirty year lag between what I experience and what I write. The fact of the matter is my writing doesn’t blow in like weather; it tends to move slow, like the motion of plates under the earth. I assume when I finally get around to this period of time I’ll want to write about the savage xenophobia of Trump and his allies, of the terrible damage they’re inflicting on poor marginalized families, how many people fought him and how many stood by.

Emily: How do you use fiction in the hopes of shaping the future? What about history?

Junot:
Fortunately for all of us, the future alone decides what it needs and we have no vote in that. My fiction hopes to speak to the future but so does nearly all writing. Whether the future wishes to speak to us is another matter altogether. History is an equally complex and interrelated phenomena. I believe I can no more shape the future than a spitter can alter the course of a hurricane. My only goal is to write good books, to write fiercely and hope that there’s anyone in the world who wishes to read them.


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