Junot Diaz awarded 'genius' grant

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  • October 1, 2012 - 6:06 PM


 Photo by Arthur Pollock

 Author Junot Diaz, pictured here at the living room window of his Cambridge apartment in August, has a special reason to smile today.

 Fiction writer Junot Diaz has won one of the "genius" grants awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to considerable prestige, the award means big money: Diaz will be one of 23 honorees to receive $500,000 over five years. Diaz, who teaches writing at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his novel "The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."

Reached Monday afternoon via email, Diaz said "Hate to sound Hollywood but this one is for my community whose sacrifice and courage made me possible," referring to the Dominican immigrant subculture in which he grew up.

As the opening author for the Star Tribune/ MPR Talking Volumes series last month at the Fitzgerald Theater, Diaz was a smart, lively and salty-tongued guest. His third and latest book is the just-published story collection "This Is How You Lose Her," The MacArthur Foundation's release says he "uses raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle."

Diaz also loves sci-fi, and recently published a story called "Monstro" in the New Yorker. What will he do with that substantial wad of cash?

"I want to write my monster book," he said. "That's what this fellowship will do."

Read a profile of Diaz here:  and a review of "This Is How You Lose Her" here:    Also, video excerpts from  his Talking Volumes appearance, with host Kerri Miller of MPR, below:




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