Friday, October 22, 2010
Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz to vist OU on Nov. 4By Katie Land, news editor
A rare opportunity awaits the Oakland University community this November, in the form of a lecture and reading from acclaimed writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz.
Diaz is the celebrated author of two manuscripts; a collection of short stories, “Drown,” and his novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which earned the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“Having a writer of Diaz's stature on campus will reinforce Oakland University’s position as a center of learning and culture in Southeast Michigan,” said Robert Anderson, associate professor of English at OU. “I frequently meet people out in the community who did not attend Oakland, and have no children, who speak to me fondly about coming here to see a famous writer on campus. After they talk about these fond memories, they often ask me when such an event will happen again. This is more than such an event.”
A number of Oakland faculty and staff members worked diligently to bring Diaz to campus, Anderson said. They found new sources of funding through the Judd Family Foundation and the College Theme Committee, as well as receiving support from OU’s departments of history and writing and rhetoric.
“These are fairly extraordinary measures to bring a writer to campus, but Diaz is an extraordinary writer,” Anderson concluded.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Diaz immigrated to New Jersey as a child, an experience that has influenced his stories. Many of his characters are immigrants and his work explores factors such as ethnicity or appearance that influence the way an individual is accepted in or excluded from a community or society.
Additionally, Diaz has won multiple major awards and fellowships such as the Eugene McDermott Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Award, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Diaz currently serves as a professor of creative writing at MIT.
Event organizers hope to attract hundreds of students to the reading, and are reaching out to local libraries, book stores and public institutions to generate a large crowd of literature lovers.
Sponsored by the English Department, the reading will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms. The reading is part of a yearlong series of events for the 2010-11 College of Arts and Sciences theme, “Frontiers & Borders.”
For more information about Oakland’s English programs, view the website. To learn more about events and programs in the CAS “Frontiers & Borders” theme, view the website.