September 21, 2011

Author Junot Diaz at Wentworth

Even for Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, the writing process is not always easy. It certainly wasn’t always a breeze for Junot Diaz, who finished his novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” 11 years after he began writing it. The process took so long, Diaz told members of Wentworth’s freshman class in Watson Auditorium on Tuesday, because the book was very difficult to write. However, persistence in the face of a challenge paid off. “Some of you are incredibly talented at stuff that you find incredibly hard,” he said. “The only way you get through is if you stick around long enough and deal with failing.” Diaz was on campus for a lecture about his book, which was required summer reading for incoming freshmen.

He spoke of his struggle with getting his friends and especially his practically-minded, immigrant parents to accept that he was going into an artistic field where high pay is rare and failure is typical.

“[My friends would say] ‘Dude, you score well on tests, be something that’ll make money,’” he said. “I wrestled a lot with it, but with anything you care about, you’ve got to put your life on the line. I became a writer because I decided to stop living my mom’s dream.”

After reading a short story from his new book, Diaz took questions from the audience. When asked who his intended audience was for “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” he said it was five of his friends from New Jersey, although he added: “in my head I always hoped more than five of them would read it.”  

The event was sponsored by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, whose annual events featuring the authors of the freshman class’ summer reading are intended to reinforce the academic experience.  

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