Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz conducted a lively conversation at Kenyon on Monday, Oct. 9, about his work and his views on race and identity.
After a brief introduction by Associate Professor of English Ivonne García, Díaz spoke to a packed Rosse Hall about his thoughts on the country’s political climate, the state of higher education, and television shows and literature about zombies, which he described as “fantastic fictions of white racial genocide.” Díaz also took audience questions, addressing queries about navigating racial identities and building solidarity and connections among communities.
Díaz is the author of numerous acclaimed works, including “Drown” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. “This Is How You Lose Her,” his 2012 short story collection, was a New York Times best-seller and National Book Award finalist.
“We live at a moment when so many forces attempt to strengthen divides: between this country and others, within our borders,” said Professor of Spanish Katherine Hedeen, who submitted the proposal to the Faculty Lectureships program to bring the writer to campus. “Díaz’s work doesn’t just break down these walls, it shatters them. His voice is an absolute necessity right now.”
Díaz is the recipient of both a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He currently serves as fiction editor at Boston Review and as the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After Díaz’s talk, audience members were invited to a reception in Storer Hall’s Stroud Lobby, where Díaz signed copies of his books. Faculty members and students continued the conversation Tuesday, Oct. 10, discussing Díaz’s work in a panel in the Finn House’s Cheever Room.
Diaz’s event and the subsequent faculty/student panel were part of a series of Latinx Heritage Month events at Kenyon that will conclude with a bilingual reading of Latino/a, Latin American and Spanish authors at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, in Storer Hall’s Brandi Recital Hall. In addition to these events, Latinx Heritage Month events included the following: