Monday, November 4, 2013

A Conversation with Junot Diaz at Brooklyn College

     The Whitman Theater at Brooklyn filled in no time with students, professors, and other faculty ready to hear from Junot Diaz. The focus was his latest book and New York Times bestseller "The Breif Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao".

     The Event was kicked off with Terrence Chang saying a few words to introduce Mr. Diaz and how great this event is and everything got started. When Junot came out he first did a reading from his other New York Times best seller "This is How You Lose her"; 'The Cheater's Guide to Love: Year 0'.



    Soon after, the discussion began and Junot had so much to say I had to take notes. A reccurring idea that kept coming up is how young people in my generation(I was born in the early 90's) are all now trying to make their art their work. This resonated with me so well because I am basically living this. Everyone is just trying to make it, trying ti be famous, and trying to make money. We noticed so many people of the generations before us who did it so 'why can't we?', but we fail to realize that it cannot be forced nor rushed.

     Junot stated that "Art is an elaborate form of play" and "too many people of this generation think that their art is supposed to pay their bills". You come home from work and then you do art. Art is not you're work. This is important for college students because we should be learning. Junot also stated that there is no reason why young people should be writing everyday(outside of schoolwork). He says that we should drop all preconceived notions about college and open up. Junot also said that so many young people try to avoid the vulnerability.

    When asked about young artists developing their voice Junot stated: Writing is a technology which all of us need to master, all of us need to learn how to write. Writing allows you to have extraordinarily complex thoughts. Voice is not much of a concern. The basic idea of education is to perfect writing. "One day you're going to need to save your own life with writing".

     Then the discussion about "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" began. Diaz said: This book has to stand in for multiple books. This was driven by the desire to create a book that will be read by someone who wants to be profoundly changed and Desperation/scarcity this may be the only book I write.

     The character Oscar Wao is Dominican and there are many slang terms, spanglish words, and Dominican references in the book. Junot stated Dominicans rarely know their history, the lack of information the average American has about DR correlates with that of the average Dominican. Most of us are raised by parents who are interested in passing down the struggles if their family history. It is passed down by family dysfunction.

     Then the Q&A began. Several students asked really great questions about what Junot has said and about his books. One question that stood out was asked by a girl(who was Dominican)who stated that the person who introduced her to "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" was Asian. She wondered how people who were not Dominican could understand this book. Junot replied by saying well White people don't question whether or not we will understand their books or their movies. This was one of many revelations I had throughout the whole discussion.

     Junot Diaz is certainly and inspiration in many ways. I bought my own copy of "This is How You Lose Her" that day and got it signed. I recommend it as well as "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"




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