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Junot Díaz

Author of New York Times bestsellers The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her; winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

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  • About Junot Díaz

    Junot Díaz holds the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a success he adds to an already long list of accolades that have been awarded to his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A true literary triumph, this heartbreaking, at times hilarious, always dazzling story of the endless human capacity to persevere in the name of love confirms Díaz as one of the best and most exciting literary voices of our time.

    The book received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2010, won the Mercantile Library Center’s John Sargent Prize for First Novel, and was a 2007 New York Public Library “Book to Remember.” In addition, Díaz’s novel was named a best book of 2007 by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Daily News, and a host of other top dailies. It was also chosen as one of the top ten books of the year by Time, People, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. In her review of the book for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. It is funny, street-smart and keenly observed… An extraordinarily vibrant book.” Time magazine called it “astoundingly great” and “the novel of the year.”

    Following The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Díaz released another short story collection titled This Is How You Lose Her, which has received an incredible amount of praise and recognition from critics all over the world. In the collection, Díaz uses his talent to write about the haunting and impossible power of love. His debut short story collection, Drown, was also a publishing sensation and is now a landmark of contemporary literature. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories.

    Most recently Díaz  published Islandborn, a children’s book that tells the story of a Dominican child in the United States to bring his longstanding questions of identity, belonging, and home to a new audience.

    Díaz is the recipient of a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/O. Henry Award, and Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award for Literature. He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and now lives in New York City and Boston, where he teaches at MIT.

     

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  • Praise for Junot Díaz

    Praise for This Is How You Lose Her

    This collection of stories, like everything else [Díaz has] written, feels vital in the literal sense of the word. Tough, smart, unflinching, and exposed, This is How You Lose Her is the perfect reminder of why Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer Prize… [He] writes better about the rapid heartbeat of urban life than pretty much anyone else.

    The Christian Science Monitor

    Díaz manages a seamless blend of high diction and low, of poetry and vulgarity… Look no further for home truths on sex and heartbreak.

    The Economist

    Taken together, [these stories’] braggadocio softens into something much more vulnerable and devastating. The intimacy and immediacy… is not just seductive but downright conspiratorial… A heartbreaker.

    The Daily Beast

    [An] excellent new collection of stories… [Díaz is] an energetic stylist who expertly moves between high-literary storytelling and fizzy pop, between geek culture and immigrant life, between romance and high drama.

    IndieBound

    Ribald, streetwise, and stunningly moving—a testament, like most of his work, to the yearning, clumsy ways young men come of age.

    Vogue

    Scooch over, Nathan Zuckerman. New Jersey has bred a new literary bad boy… A.

    Entertainment Weekly

    In Díaz’s magisterial voice, the trials and tribulations of sex-obsessed objectifiers become a revelation.

    The Boston Globe

    [A] propulsive new collection… [that] succeeds not only because of the author’s gift for exploring the nuances of the male… but because of a writing style that moves with the rhythm and grace of a well-danced merengue.

    Seattle Times

    The dark ferocity of each of these stories and the types of love it portrays is reason enough to celebrate this book. But the collection is also a major contribution to the short story form… It is an engrossing, ambitious book for readers who demand of their fiction both emotional precision and linguistic daring.

    NPR

    Impressive… comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness and irresistible in its heartfelt yearning.

    The Washington Post

    These stories… are virtuosic, command performances that mine the deceptive, lovelorn hearts of men with the blend of tenderness, comedy and vulgarity of early Philip Roth. It’s Díaz’s voice that’s such a delight, and it is every bit his own, a melting-pot pastiche of Spanglish and street slang, pop culture and Dominican culture, and just devastating descriptive power, sometimes all in the same sentence.

    USA Today

    Junot Díaz has one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction: limber, streetwise, caffeinated and wonderfully eclectic… The strongest tales are those fueled by the verbal energy and magpie language that made Brief Wondrous Life so memorable and that capture Yunior’s efforts to commute between two cultures, Dominican and American, while always remaining an outsider.

    Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

    Searing, irresistible new stories… It’s a harsh world Díaz conjures but one filled also with beauty and humor and buoyed by the stubborn resilience of the human spirit.

    People

    Exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulitzer Prize… Díaz’s prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.

    O Magazine

    Nobody does scrappy, sassy, twice-the-speed of sound dialogue better than Junot Díaz. His exuberant short story collection, called This Is How You Lose Her, charts the lives of Dominican immigrants for whom the promise of America comes down to a minimum-wage paycheck, an occasional walk to a movie in a mall and the momentary escape of a grappling in bed.

    Maureen Corrigan, NPR

    Junot Díaz writes in an idiom so electrifying and distinct it’s practically an act of aggression, at once enthralling, even erotic in its assertion of sudden intimacy… [It is] a syncopated swagger-step between opacity and transparency, exclusion and inclusion, defiance and desire… His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.

    The New York Times Book Review

    Praise for The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    Few books require a ‘highly flammable’ warning, but The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz’s long-awaited first novel, will burn its way into your heart and sizzle your senses. Díaz’s novel is drenched in the heated rhythms of the real world as much as it is laced with magical realism and classic fantasy stories.

    USA Today

    Now that Díaz’s second book, a novel called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has finally arrived, younger writers will find that the bar. And some older writers—we know who we are—might want to think about stepping up their game. Oscar Wao shows a novelist engaged with the culture, high and low, and its polyglot language. If Donald Barthelme had lived to read Díaz, he surely would have been delighted to discover an intellectual and linguistic omnivore who could have taught even him a move or two.

    Newsweek

    Terrific. . . High-energy. . . It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread.

    Entertainment Weekly

    The Dominican Republic [Díaz] portrays in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a wild, beautiful, dangerous, and contradictory place, both hopelessly impoverished and impossibly rich. Not so different, perhaps, from anyone else’s ancestral homeland, but Díaz’s weirdly wonderful novel illustrates the island’s uniquely powerful hold on Dominicans wherever they may wander. Díaz made us wait eleven years for this first novel and boom!—it’s over just like that. It’s not a bad gambit, to always leave your audience wanting more. So brief and wondrous, this life of Oscar. Wow.

    The Washington Post Book World

    Díaz’s writing is unruly, manic, seductive. . . In Díaz’s landscape we are all the same, victims of a history and a present that doesn’t just bleed together but stew. Often in hilarity. Mostly in heartbreak.

    Esquire

    Panoramic and yet achingly personal. It’s impossible to categorize, which is a good thing. There’s the epic novel, the domestic novel, the social novel, the historical novel, and the ‘language’ novel. People talk about the Great American Novel and the immigrant novel. Pretty reductive. Díaz’s novel is a hell of a book. It doesn’t care about categories. It’s densely populated; it’s obsessed with language. It’s Dominican and American, not about immigration but diaspora, in which one family’s dramas are entwined with a nation’s, not about history as information but as dark-force destroyer. Really, it’s a love novel. . . His dazzling wordplay is impressive. But by the end, it is his tenderness and loyalty and melancholy that breaks the heart. That is wondrous in itself.

    Los Angeles Times

    Superb, deliciously casual and vibrant, shot through with wit and insight. The great achievement of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Díaz’s ability to balance an intimate multigenerational story of familial tragedy. . . The past and present remain equally in focus, equally immediate, and Díaz’s acrobatic prose toggles artfully between realities, keeping us enthralled with all.

    The Boston Globe

    Astoundingly great. . . Díaz has written. . . a mixture of straight-up English, Dominican Spanish, and hieratic nerdspeak crowded with references to Tolkien, DC Comics, role-playing games, and classic science fiction. . . In lesser hands Oscar Wao would merely have been the saddest book of the year. With Díaz on the mike, it’s also the funniest.

    Time

    Genius. . . a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific. And what a voice Yunior has. His narration is a triumph of style and wit, moving along Oscar de Leon’s story with cracking, down-low humor, and at times expertly stunning us with heart-stabbing sentences. That Díaz’s novel is also full of ideas, that [the narrator’s] brilliant talking rivals the monologues of Roth’s Zuckerman—in short, that what he has produced is a kick-ass (and truly, that is just the word for it) work of modern fiction—all make The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao something exceedingly rare: a book in which a new America can recognize itself, but so can everyone else.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    Díaz finds a miraculous balance. He cuts his barn-burning comic-book plots (escape, ruin, redemption) with honest, messy realism, and his narrator speaks in a dazzling hash of Spanish, English, slang, literary flourishes, and pure virginal dorkiness.

    New York Magazine

    An extraordinarily vibrant book that’s fueled by adrenaline-powered prose. . . A book that decisively establishes [Díaz] as one of contemporary fiction’s most distinctive and irresistible new voices.

    Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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