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Junot Diaz  

The author of "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"
Last Updated: Aug 22, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Junot Diaz


Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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About the author: Junot Diaz

Born in the Dominican Republic, Junot (pronounced like the city Juno, Alaska)  Diaz moved to the United States as a young child. He lived in New Jersey and mentions New Jersey locales in his writings. His family was poor and at a young age he worked as a mill worker, a dish washer and delivering pool tables; the immigrant ethic of hard work never left him.  He graduated from Rutgers with a BA in both Literature and History, and later received an MFA from Cornell University. 

Drown, his first collection of short stories was published in 1996. It was not until 2007 that he published his second book The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, for which he won many awards. He portrays the struggles of children of immigrants, dealing with universal themes of love and acceptance. The violence of the Trujillo period in Dominican history and the subsequent Dominican diaspora resonates through the lives of his characters. His stories incorporate a diversity of influences:  Latino culture, Dominican history, Hip hop, Comic books, Science Fiction, Spanglish and slang from the streets of New Jersey and Santa Domingo. 

Notable Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, 2007, Pulitzer Prize for fiction, 2008, MacArthur Genius Grant 2012
Themes: Immigrant experience, Multiculturalism, Social classes, Family relationships, Masculinity, Friendship, Misfits, Teenage male identity, Coming of age, Social acceptance, Family curses, Folklore, Belief in the supernatural, Domestic violence, Coping with illness
Literary devices: Magical realism, Naturalism, First person narrator, Use of obscure geographic and cultural references and Spanglish to replicate the immigrant experience
Influential authors: Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, James Joyce


Gross, Terry, and Junot Diaz. "Junot Diaz Discusses His 'Wondrous' Debut Novel." NPR. NPR, 2 May 2008. Web. 12 May 2016. Retrieved from

West, Alan. Latino and Latina Writers. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. Print.

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