Thursday, September 20, 2007
Photo by Tom Larrabee. Junot Díaz at Pennsylvania State University
He came with his family from the Dominican Republic when he was 6. He didn't speak much English for several years... but he could read...
He is now a professor at MIT (Massechussetts Institute of Techonology).
The Outsider Is In: An Immigrant's Stories
In Life as in His Acclaimed Work, Author Junot Díaz Unites Two Selves
By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2007; Page C01
Understanding the immigration experience may be impossible if you haven't been through it. But it helps to hear Junot D¿az talk about classified ads.
Díaz is the author of "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," a novel published early this month to immediate acclaim. He's sitting in the lobby of the venerable Algonquin Hotel trying to describe how it felt to be a 6-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic plunked down in New Jersey in 1974, at "the end of one world, the beginning of another."
He didn't speak much English for years -- out of stubborn-mindedness, perhaps, or a child's sensitivity to ridicule -- but he started reading it pretty much right away. By the time he was 9, he was compulsively consuming newspaper classified pages. They were, he says, "a window into a world I had no access to."
One day that window opened just a crack.
Someone had placed an ad offering free books. Díaz called and reached an elderly woman who lived maybe four miles from his house. "I have 500 books and I don't want to throw them away," she told him. "If you can get over here and get them, you can have them."
No adult in his life would have cared that he wanted those books, so being driven to pick them up was out. But he realized that if he took a shopping cart and made three or four trips, he could get them all...
For link to complete WP article, click title to this post
Photo: From the Daily Collegian, Pennsylvania State University. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2007/02/02-13-07tdc/02-13-07dnews-02b.jpg