Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Junot Diaz, the author of the short story collection Drown, has finally published his long-awaited first novel. The New York Times states, it "is a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets “Star Trek” meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West." The novel is based on a fat Dominican geek who is an aspiring science fiction writer, who dreams of becoming “the Dominican Tolkien.” When I had last spoken to Junot, he mentioned that he was working on a science fiction novel. I was completely elated when he had said this. The idea of him writing a science fiction piece with his stark and brisk style made me realize the importance for writers to write outside their comfort zones. This later inevitably filtered down to my own writing. When I write poetry, I try to always to experiment with voices and subject matter. I step back and ask myself whether or not a poet has written about this subject before and if so, how could I reinterpret it? Thus, the idea of sci-fi poems, poems about video games, poems about comic books, etc extremely interests me. I guess that is why I enjoy reading anthologies a lot. Anthologies sometimes center on specific themes and I truly appreciate seeing how poets can embrace these themes and create a poem from them. So, when Junot mentioned this science fiction novel, I knew it was an important goal for him and I am thrilled that he finally accomplished it.
Listen to an interview with him at Writers at Cornell.