Tuesday, February 19, 2013 (Bronx, NY) – If you want to know how Junot Díaz became a celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, he’ll tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. He’ll also tell you that he worked really hard — sometimes reading as many as 100 books a year — just to keep pace with the competition. “People are in a rush to be famous; I was in a rush to be good.”
This was the main message from the Dominican writer, professor, and artist, who lectured about life, and read from his new book, This is How You Lose Her, in the Hostos Repertory Theater on Monday, February 4.
The second event in the new Hostos Heritage Lecture Series, it gave the college community a close-up look at the acclaimed writer, who leaned on literature at a young age and eventually became what The New Yorker magazine described as one of the top 20 writers of the 21st century. Now 44, Díaz won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008 for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. In 2012, he was awarded a MacArthur “Genius Grant” of $500,000.
Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and Associate Dean for Community Relations Ana I. García Reyes introduced Díaz, who is no stranger to the campus. He also received proclamations from New York State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa and New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, as well as a framed poster from the college as a memento of the event.
The special event also helped Hostos recognize Dominican Heritage Month.
Díaz read excerpts from This is How You Lose Her,a collection of short stories that examine the different faces of love, while centering around the character of Yunior. Described by Newsweek as a writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet,” Díaz engaged the audience as both, weaving together life lessons — both good and bad — with practical advice before signing copies of books and posters.
In the lecture, Díaz explained that he considers himself an “artist” rather than an “entertainer” and expects ‘’participation” from readers. “I am very interested in the struggle of reading books. … You have to work at it,” Díaz said, adding that the learning process involved in digesting a book can serve as an “invitation to build community.”
Also a creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and fiction editor at Boston Review, Díaz said he urges his students to become activists and more critically minded, particularly when it comes to race relations.
“We are living in a society that is trying to make everyone the same, that fights multiculturalism. For it to survive in this inferno, we have to work hard and have the courage to maintain our heritage.”
This event was sponsored by EmblemHealth.
About Hostos Community College:
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968. In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to more than 7,000 students in 2012. The college also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu
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