Author Junot Díaz Packs Thorne Hall

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-27 20:01Z by Steven

Author Junot Díaz Packs Thorne Hall

Oxy Newsroom
Occidental College, Los Angeles, California

Media Contact: Jim Tranquada / (323) 259-2990

Marc Campos/Occidental College

Ranging from profane to profound, from wisecracking to wistful, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz discussed the complexities and heartbreak of race and identity in America with a capacity crowd at Occidental College Tuesday.

For two hours, Díaz mixed readings from his critically acclaimed books The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her with thoughtful, often self-deprecatory answers to questions from the crowd of 800 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members that packed Thorne Hall.

Diaz was introduced by novelist Danzy Senna, Occidental’s writer-in-residence and an old friend, who called him “One of the few writers I teach again and again, year after year … His characters contain multitudes.”

A native of the Dominican Republic who emigrated to the United States as a child, Díaz repeatedly critiqued the idea of authenticity among communities of color – the existence of an internal formula or standard of authenticity that leaves most people believing that their identity, and the lives they lead, are somehow lacking.

“I grew up in central Jersey in a big African-American community, and black folks were no more willing to accept my complexity than white folks … they wanted to deny my multiplicity. They said I was just black. And my Dominican family said we’re not black,” he said. “Neither of these formulas satisfy, because a huge portion of me disappears. I fought tooth and nail so every little part of me could be at the party.”

Such formulas tend to create hierarchies, and “solidarity is impossible with hierarchies,” he continued. “It might give you a little psychic capital, but its disrupts your ability to connect … There’s a lot at stake when a community exercises this kind of internal exclusion.”…

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