Junot Díaz

Went to Cambridge this afternoon to see Junot Diaz read from his current project, a sci-fi/futuristic novel tentatively called The Guilty Country. After reading from the novel, he spoke about his ideas for the manuscript. Mentioned a recent interest of his in "extinction theory"--the novel being a dystopian, near-future allegory for race in the Americas (among other possible readings). He mentioned wanting to address the impact of white supremacy and its ideologies on people of color/colonized people--the effects of white supremacy on black & brown minds but also on white minds (as Frantz Fanon began to map out in his writings). The "City" of the novel is based on New York but it's a New York that includes other cities superimposed onto its frame, a multiple city, maybe reminiscent of Burroughs' Interzone, or Cortazar's Paris/Buenos Aires. The cities Diaz mentioned as being superimposed onto NYC were Santo Domingo, Mexico D.F., Bogota, La Habana--a Third World within the First.

Diaz's relatively long silence, since publishing Drown in 1996, has been productive. It has involved research with survivors of prison during the dicatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. For several years now I've been waiting--despite the novel's "death" etc--to read the great US Latino novel, that semi-mythical foundational Latino text (in the manner of Invisible Man or House Made of Dawn) that would help counter our continuous invisibility within the language (and its institutions) that we write in. There have been glimpses of this recently, with Francisco Goldman's The Ordinary Seaman and Sandra Cisneros' Caramelo. I'm looking forward to reading this novel, whenever it ends up coming out.

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