Junot Diaz has sure come a ways in the world since I interviewed him, lo those many years ago. I had read his short story “Edison, New Jersey” in the Paris Review, and since I wrote for a newspaper that covered Middlesex County I sought him out — after all, how many times does one expect to see Edison name-checked in the Paris Review. For the purposes of my newspaper, the Diaz article was a hat trick — Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic but raised in London Terrace, with connections to Elizabeth, and a degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick. All three coverage areas in one story! High five, baby!
What made the article truly enjoyable, of course, was the quality of the man’s work, which was demonstrated many times over when his story collection Drown appeared in bookstores. Since then, the guy’s had a charmed career. His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, appeared after a long interval and was garlanded with rave reviews and a Pulitzer Prize. Now another collection, This Is How You Lose Her, is out just in time for Diaz to score a genius grant. And now he’s going to write a science fiction novel. More power to him.
All I ask is that the Nobel committee wait a decent interval before giving Diaz a call. He’d have nowhere to go after that, and I want this good-guy-finishes-first story to keep rolling.