The Return of The SPB Q: JUNOT DIAZ

{Last year I started a blog feature known as The SPB Q. I think I started it because I’d recently stopped doing journalism and started to focus on more academic pursuits (I was teaching writing and popular culture at Brown and prepping for graduate school). One of the reasons I’d become a journalist, though, was because I liked to talk to people. I liked finding out what made them, for lack of a better word this morning, tick. So I devised The SPB Q, a questionnaire for people I thought were doing good work in their fields, who were breaking new ground, who loved what they did. I started off with friends: Jody Watley was wonderful enough to do the first one, and writer and media friends like Lloyd Boston , Cheo Hodari Coker, and Junot Diaz all found time to provide some intel about themselves. So, to re-launch SCOTT TOPICS™ and to re-launch The SPB Q, I’m re-running Junot’s Q. Every week from now on, there’ll be someone new, often I’ll be featuring young academics, sometimes you’ll catch a celeb or athlete or playwright. But whoever it is, be ready to find out if you share some of the cultural tastes of the Qers. It’s fun. And maybe you wanna recommend someone do The Q? Feel free to send emails or leave comments…}

It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for The SPB Q…This week’s guest is Junot Diaz, one of my favorite writers….

I first met Junot back in 1996, a little before the publication of Drown, the collection of short stories that put him on the literary map. At the time, we shared an agent, so I’d heard about some crazy good Dominican kat who’s words flew off the page like hiphop beats. Right before we met he’d published one of Drown’s stories, “How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie” in The New Yorker, and to put it plainly, I thought it was so good, I actually didn’t want to meet the kat who could conjure language like that. He would only end up being an ass and make me feel even worse for not being as good a writer as I thought I was. Then we met. And he was this mad friendly, smart, humble, joke-cracking dude who just happened to make words into thought-provoking music. When homeboy won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I couldn’t stop smiling, I was that happy for him, for writers of color, for the world that would now be even more knowledgeable about his work. Homeboy’s teaching at MIT now, but he took some time out to fill out The Q.

Name: Junot Diaz

Hometown: Santo Domingo

Zodiac sign: Capricorn Monkey

Favorite book: Poison River by Beto Hernández

Favorite author: Samuel R. Delany

Fictional character you wish you could have created: Nexus by Steve Rude and Mike Barron

Favorite movie: Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru

Favorite song: “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” by Public Enemy

Favorite word: deguabinao

Career High: Winning the Pulitzer in front of my mother and my two year old nephew, in New Jersey where all this writing shit began.

Life High: Traveling back to the Dominican Republic after a 20-year absence and not feeling completely like a jerk.

You’re on a desert island and can only have 5 books shipped in to you. What are they?: Nothing distorts sensibility quite like scarcity but here you are–

AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
LILITH’S BROOD by Octavia E. Butler
CEREMONY by Leslie Marmon Silko

Your favorite quote:  Who hasn’t asked himself, am I a monster or is this what it means to be human? –Clarice Lispector


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Filed under books, Junot Diaz, The SPB Q

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