(see also Book Browse's blog for more about Junot Diaz) Junot Diaz discusses his first two books, Drown and the The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao How has your life changed since the publication of Drown a decade ago? We're talking eleven years (to be exact), so of course one's life is bound to change plenty.But Drown acted like an accelerant, it put things into overdrive.
And (finally) there was this very brainy interest I had in these weird (and in my opinion reductive) arguments in Latin American letters between the forces of Macondo and Mc Ondo.I remember dashing the first part out in a couple of weeks. But Oscar wouldn't stop hanging out in my head, and I realized that I wanted to write an entire novel about a Dominican kid who doesn't get the girls, who can't dance, who is the opposite of all the stereotypes that we inside the Dominican community have about "our men." I wanted to write about this nerdy romantic kid who's haunted by history and girls, who's good only at fantasy and science fiction, and yet who (tragically, hilariously) belongs to a community and to a larger culture that ain't too hot on men-of-color nerds or their interests.But the real challenge was in trying to create a voice, a narrative, that would allow me to talk about Zardoz and the dictatorship of Trujillo and '80s urban hip-hop and Broca and the Diaspora Dominicana and E. "Doc" Smith's Lensmen and Latin Paterson and Unus the Untouchable simultaneously.It's been a source of joy in spite of my discomforts, and that's the way of most good things, I suppose.Why do you think people responded so strongly to that story collection, and still remember and talk about it?