The Immigrant writer who doesn’t want to be one
While many families are now accepting the fact that children can become whatever they want – and not just doctors or engineers – Junot Diaz’s family was not so liberal initially. Diaz was a smart kid, who was supposed to become a doctor and if he could not do that, then he was going to be an engineer. And that’s when Diaz dropped the career-bomb, saying how he wanted to become an author and was going to pursue this career only.
Wondering about family’s reactions? Well, let me tell you – they were not that good. “It was a big shocker. And I won’t lie: Believe it or not, my family is still profoundly disappointed,” said Díaz. “Those cultural acknowledgements you get as a writer don’t mean anything to immigrants.” He went on to write ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’; the book, unsurprisingly, got him the Pulitzer Prize.
Diaz poured his heart out at the lecture held by Northeastern University. The lecture series, known as the Dean’s Lecture Series, called this MIT professor to urge him to talk about his writings and his overall journey as a writer.
The lecture saw how the writer’s stories are written in a funny, somewhat crude but in a to-the-point way. For instance, there are even unique titles to his short stories, with reference to sex, where one definitely has to avert their children’s eyes. The lecture also saw him answering questions about his childhood, his family, his education, the whole reason behind him choosing to be a writer and last, but not the least, how he has been called the ‘immigrant writer’ because of his works.
“There happen to be immigrants in the book, so you’re an immigrant writer,” Díaz said. “That’s like saying, ‘There happen to be (people) with hats in your book; you’re a hat writer.’” Pretty air-tight logic, according to me.
Diaz emphasises on how he includes other topics in his writings, apart from immigration, such as family, writing, and masculinity. In all this though, he didn’t forget to praise the readers, saying that they are the most amazing creature, who will, “fall in love with the strangest (stuff).”
The lecture ended with a series of follow-up questions, but I haven’t yet forgotten how he describes his readers in relation to himself – “My allies had to be readers because I am a reader.” I feel this was the best example the author was able to put the writer-reader bond in words.