MacArthur Fellows Program

Junot Díaz

Fiction Writer | Class of 2012

Using raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.

Title
Fiction Writer
Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Age
43 at time of award

Junot Díaz is a writer whose finely crafted works of fiction offer powerful insight into the realities of the Caribbean diaspora, American assimilation, and lives lived between cultures. Born in the Dominican Republic and living in the United States since adolescence, Díaz writes from the vantage point of his own experience, eloquently unmasking the many challenges of the immigrant’s life. With skillful use of raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose, he creates nuanced and engaging characters struggling to succeed and often invisible in plain sight to the American mainstream. In Drown (1996), an anthology of interrelated short stories, Díaz describes his narrator’s coming-of-age in New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, deftly interweaving complex chronologies, particulars of place, and shifting narrative perspectives. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), Diaz’s first novel, follows three generations of a family living in both the Dominican Republic and the United States. Through the striking voice of the narrator—a mix of Spanish, English, and street slang with myriad literary and popular culture references—Díaz approaches the complicated and troubled history of the Dominican Republic with humor and irony while also tracing the legacy of the violent Trujillo regime, both for those who lived through it and those who left. In these book-length works and numerous other short stories and essays, Díaz composes vivid narratives that capture the texture of day-to-day survival and draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.

Junot Díaz received a B.A. (1992) from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. (1995) from Cornell University. He was affiliated with Syracuse University (1997–2002) prior to joining the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing. His additional publications include the story collection This Is How You Lose Her (2012) and short stories in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and Callaloo, among others.

News About this Fellow
July 18, 2017
"Next From the Novelist Junot Díaz? A Picture Book"
The New York Times
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
May 17, 2017
"The Mongoose and the Émigré"
The New York Times Magazine
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
February 26, 2017
"Junot Díaz Addresses Community on Activism's Role on College Campuses"
The Daily Princetonian
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
February 23, 2017
"'Walls Imagine an Invader,' Writer Junot Díaz Says in Charged Talk at Johns Hopkins"
John Hopkins University Hub
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
February 22, 2017
"Junot Diaz Puts the Audience Center Stage at REDCAT"
Los Angeles Times
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
January 17, 2017
"Award-Winning Junot Diaz Visits UVA This Month As Writer-in-Residence"
University of Virginia
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
May 16, 2016
"The Future Is Ours – A Q&A With Junot Díaz"
The Uptown Collective
Junot Díaz, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
View all news

Photos

Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY.
Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.


More Fellows

View All 2012 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.