CHESTERTOWN—Junot Díaz, whose first novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won nearly every major literary prize for fiction, will read and discuss his work at Washington College on Monday, November 8, at 7 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. A book signing will follow.
Published in 2007, Díaz’s story about an overweight, nerdy Dominican immigrant growing up in New Jersey was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Mercantile Library Center’s John Sargent Prize for First Novel, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. It also was judged the best book of 2007 by many major newspapers, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.
Set in both the United States and the Dominican Republic, the novel explores the complexities of living in two cultures at once. The NewYork Times characterized the language as “so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.”
Washington College chose The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as the First-Year Book for the Class of 2014. The freshmen were encouraged to read it over the summer and arrive on campus ready to discuss it with classmates, faculty and staff.
Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and came to the United States with his family at age 6, settling in New Jersey. His first book was a best selling collection of short stories titled Drown. Like his novel, those stories dealt with young Dominican immigrants assimilating into American culture.
His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII and in The O'Henry Prize Stories 2009, and he has received numerous awards and fellowships. He teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is fiction editor at the Boston Review.
The November 8 reading at Washington College is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by The Rose O’Neill Literary House and the Dean’s Office.