PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST AND SHORT STORY WRITER,
NYS Writers Institute, October 4, 2012
The reviewer for Oprah’s O. Magazine said that the collection “…exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulitzer Prize… Díaz’s prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.” In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Searing, sometimes hilarious, and always disarming … Readers will remember why everyone wants to write like Díaz, bring him home, or both. Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart.”
Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Díaz emigrated to Parlin, New Jersey near the time of his sixth birthday in December, 1974. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), the story of a self-described “ghetto nerd,” growing up in a Dominican-American enclave in New Jersey. Oscar Wao achieved international acclaim and has become a standard text in university literature courses nationwide. Lev Grossman of Time called it, “Astoundingly great.... an immigrant-family saga for people who don’t read immigrant-family sagas.”
Díaz’s debut story collection, Drown (1996), became a national bestseller. At the time of its publication, novelist Walter Mosley said, “Junot Díaz is a major new writer. His world explodes off the page into the canon of our literature and our hearts.”
A Professor of Creative Writing at MIT and fiction editor of the Boston Review, Díaz has published short fiction in The Best American Stories four times (1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000), and in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories anthology in 2009. In February 2010, he published a critique of Barack Obama’s talents as a storyteller in the New Yorker: “One Year: Storyteller-in-Chief.”
Other honors include the Eugene McDermott Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Wallace Readers Digest Award, the 2002 PEN/Malamud Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the NEA, a Radcliffe Institute fellowship, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In May 2010, Díaz became the first Latino appointed to the board of jurors of the Pulitzer Prize.
Díaz visited the New York State Writers Institute early in his career, sharing the stage with Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat on April 10, 1997.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.