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View Full Version : Junot Diaz is coming to my campus! I'm so nervous



BlueLucario
03-24-2009, 07:51 PM
If you guys want to know who Junot Diaz is, he's the guy who wrote the book that's on my avatar. He's coming tonight and tommorow, and I don't have any questions for him. I'm sort of nervous. I am currently reading his book for classwork.

If you were actually meeting a well respected author, what would you say to him/her? What would you ask her?

Fox The Cave
03-24-2009, 07:56 PM
Can I borrow your agent?

dreamsofnever
03-24-2009, 08:11 PM
That's awesome, Blue!

I would ask about the writing process, and I would ask about how he got into the publishing business.

If I liked the book, I would probably ask about how he got the idea for the book.

Is there anything you WANT to know about the publishing industry or the author in general?

Stew21
03-24-2009, 08:24 PM
Junot Diaz won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 2007 for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It is an amazing book and he is a very skilled writer. if i met him, I confess I'd be star-struck.

If I met him I'd ask him about voicing his characters. He's very talented at giving a unique voice to his characters. Ask him about that process.
I'd also ask him about the time he took between the publication of Drown and his novel, ...Oscar Wao. Oscar came along 10 years after Drown.
You might want to ask him about teaching at MIT also, and balancing working at teaching and his own personal writing time.

You can go to www.NPR.org and do a search on Junot Diaz. They have some audio of one of his readings. You can also find him on YouTube if you want to see him and listen to him speak. It might make you less nervous to see what his sessions are like prior to meeting him.

BlueLucario
03-24-2009, 08:26 PM
I'd also like to know how many books it took him to get published.

How long did it take him to finish his first book? All that stuff.

dreamsofnever, are you talking about the stages in the writing process?

Stew21
03-24-2009, 08:29 PM
He had short stories in publications for a long while. His agent represents short story authors for collections of their work. Oscar Wao was his first novel.

do a search on line to find out more about him, it might help you come up with questions.

James81
03-24-2009, 08:45 PM
Junot Diaz won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 2007 for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It is an amazing book

That is the first book I have, in a LONNNG time, slammed shut and quit about 50 pages into it. What a terrible, terrible, terrible book.

Mr. Anonymous
03-24-2009, 08:48 PM
That is the first book I have, in a LONNNG time, slammed shut and quit about 50 pages into it. What a terrible, terrible, terrible book.
Obviously, a lot of people disagree. ;)

Sounds like a great opportunity blue! I confess I am a little jealous.

Stew21
03-24-2009, 08:48 PM
Well that's certainly an opinion, James. I happen to have a different one. :)

James81
03-24-2009, 08:49 PM
Obviously, a lot of people disagree. ;)



Well, obviously. I'm about half tempted to check it out of the library again and try to force myself to finish it just to see what the heck people saw in it.

Stew21
03-24-2009, 08:57 PM
Here's an excerpt, Blue:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95836721


and if you click the "Listen" link on this one you can hear him.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95764750 (to hear part of Wao, go to about minute 15)

Ken
03-24-2009, 09:00 PM
... just be thankful that Wao's life was brief, James. Otherwise you'd really have a lot of reading to do ;-) // I'm sure it's a terrific book, though. Pulitzer Prizes are only awarded to the best of the best. // ps Really cool Blue. Enjoy :-)

James81
03-24-2009, 09:03 PM
I'm sure it's a terrific book, though. Pulitzer Prizes are only awarded to the best of the best.

Heh, that's kind of why I wanted to read it.

And I gave it the usual 50 pages before hurling it across the room.

Maybe someone who has read it can delve into why they felt it was so good? Perhaps if I try to read it again with your thoughts in mind, it may help me focus more or something.

Mr. Anonymous
03-24-2009, 09:06 PM
Well, obviously. I'm about half tempted to check it out of the library again and try to force myself to finish it just to see what the heck people saw in it.

Well, you shouldn't do that unless you really want to. I believe A Separate Peace won the Pulitzer or Nobel or something fancy shmancy but I didn't like it all that much (some nice writing in there though.) It all comes down to personal taste (though I would hesitate to call any work terrible.) That said, a lot of people who liked his first book, Drown, happened to share your sentiments about Brief and Wondrous Life. So you're not alone, even amongst people who have previously enjoyed his writing.

Phaeal
03-24-2009, 09:42 PM
There is no objective and infallible panel handing out the Pulitzer or any other literary prize. It's all subjective. Hence that a book has won a prize is no guarantee that all readers will like it, or that it's the "best" available.

Having reached the age of cynicism, I might even venture the opinion that politics enters into the judging of contests, as it enters into all other aspects of human life. But nah, let me not corrupt those of us still innocent. ;)

Heard Diaz on NPR's On Point -- he sounded very interesting and approachable. The only question I'd caution you on, Blue, is "Where do you get your ideas?" That's the bete noire of creative artists everywhere, to hear their private moans. Besides, someone else is sure to beat you to it.

happywritermom
03-24-2009, 10:36 PM
He might be a wonderful writer, but he's just a guy. Remember that. Ask him questions that genuinely intrigue you. If you can't come up with any, then just enjoy the reading and enjoy the company. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Harper K
03-24-2009, 10:39 PM
I'm going to see Junot Diaz this week, too! He's coming here to Atlanta on Thursday. Can't wait. I had read a couple of his short stories in New Yorker over several years, but then last year I read Drown and Oscar Wao back to back and became a bit of a Junot Diaz fangirl. ;)

(Although I'm nothing compared to a friend of mine, who flew all the way across the country last September to catch a talk Diaz did in San Francisco.)

I've seen a number of interviews with Mr. Diaz, although my friend says he's much more, ah, profane in person than he is in his TV and radio interviews. CBS News did a good interview with him last year -- I think if you do a search at cbsnews.com, you can still find it in their online archives. He talked a bit about his writer's block while trying to finish Oscar Wao, and took the reporter to his childhood home in New Jersey and talked about how his family and early years had influenced his work.

Like Stew, I'm really fascinated and awed by how he voices his characters, so if I get a chance to ask a question, I'll probably ask something about that. I'm also interested in the character of Yunior, who appears in a number of the stories in Drown and also shows up as the omniscient narrator of Oscar Wao. I'd like to ask something about him, but I'm not sure what, yet -- maybe just how the character came about, or who, if anyone, he was based on, or why Diaz chose him to narrate Oscar Wao.

dreamsofnever
03-25-2009, 01:05 AM
I'd also like to know how many books it took him to get published.

How long did it take him to finish his first book? All that stuff.

dreamsofnever, are you talking about the stages in the writing process?

Sorry, Blue. I should have clarified. I think it's a case of my brain racing ahead of my fingers. Happens a lot.

Whenever I talk to writers (famous or not famous) I'm always curious in how they approach writing in general. Do they use an outline for plotting or do they fly by the seat of their pants? How do they create their characters? How many hours a day do they spend writing? How many drafts does it take for them to be happy with a work? And so on and so forth.

Of course, depending on how they've set up your time to talk with him will depend on how many questions you can ask and how in depth you can go. Is it going to be a panel with a room full of people? Will you only get one question?

Or is it more one-on-one or a small group setting?

I think you should think about what you admire most about the book you're currently reading and ask him how he did it. Whether it's characterization, description, the story itself, whatever.

And of course, come back and share the kernels of wisdom you received from this meeting with him :)

BlueLucario
03-25-2009, 09:42 PM
I'm back. And I just got Diaz's Autograph. Someone did say he was a bit "profane" in person. Whatever that meant, I just took that as a warning. He did curse a lot. And he also taught some of his students how to be critical and not try to be too polite.

I have more to tell you, but I have to write them down.

I'm telling you that was the best experience of my life. I'll never forget this moment. :)

Stew21
03-25-2009, 10:05 PM
I'm jealous, Blue. I'd love to meet him.

BlueLucario
03-25-2009, 11:30 PM
He also considers his writing, not only just writing. He calls his stories "art". He truly has a lot of passion for it.

I asked him one thing, if he had one thing to say about aspiring authors, he would say this: There's no shortcut to being a true artist. You can't be an author without at least reading books.(He reads graphic novels) There's about a million paths to take, every person's path to art is different. Each person's voice is different.

He also thinks I'm a little impatient. I asked him too many questions. I was extremely embarassed.

Mr. Anonymous
03-25-2009, 11:38 PM
He also considers his writing, not only just writing. He calls his stories "art". He truly has a lot of passion for it.

I asked him one thing, if he had one thing to say about aspiring authors, he would say this: There's no shortcut to being a true artist. You can't be an author without at least reading books.(He reads graphic novels) There's about a million paths to take, every person's path to art is different. Each person's voice is different.

He also thinks I'm a little impatient. I asked him too many questions. I was extremely embarassed.
So you didn't ask him one thing. xP

Soccer Mom
03-26-2009, 12:20 AM
I asked him one thing, if he had one thing to say about aspiring authors, he would say this: There's no shortcut to being a true artist. You can't be an author without at least reading books.(He reads graphic novels) There's about a million paths to take, every person's path to art is different. Each person's voice is different.


Bronze that and put it on your mantle and next time you want to ask what you should do, READ IT!

James81
03-26-2009, 12:39 AM
ISomeone did say he was a bit "profane" in person. Whatever that meant, I just took that as a warning. He did curse a lot.

How often did he use the word "nigger"? He pretty much used it in place of the comma in Oscar Wao.

BlueLucario
03-26-2009, 01:36 AM
How often did he use the word "nigger"? He pretty much used it in place of the comma in Oscar Wao.
Um...did he offend you or anything? :(

He never used it. He said this though.

Last night he had an argument with someone who didn't like Dominicans, when she's Dominican herself.

James81
03-26-2009, 01:38 AM
Um...did he offend you or anything? :(

He never used it. He said this though.

Last night he had an argument with someone who didn't like Dominicans, when she's Dominican herself.

Nah, I don't get offended by the word. I just found his use of it pointless in the book. I got the sense that it was more of a "hey, look, I'm being edgy by using the word nigger in my story!" rather than a real, legitimate need for it to be there.