He is quiet no longer

One of my favorite writers and mentor, Junot Diaz, has seemingly broken his writer’s block. First came a piece in Gourmet magazine’s 2006 summer literary supplement that had me so excited I emailed him the equivalent of a big “high five” in the middle of the night.

Now, comes a story in The New Yorker’s summer fiction issue entitled “Wildwood.” The voice of that character is remarkable. I would’ve gone with her anywhere, and was disappointed when she parted ways with me at the end of the story.  Junot is a master of voice.

It reminds me of how valuable voice is in a story. If the character’s voice pops and crackles and captures the reader, then you can take that reader, willingly, anywhere in the story.

I got so excited after reading “Wildwood” that I hopped out of bed (normally, I doze off after some nighttime reading in bed), walked downstairs, and emailed Junot the equivalent of a big high five.

I can’t wait until Junot’s book comes out in September.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “He is quiet no longer

  1. Eric

    The oddest thing is that I was shopping on Wednesday evening for some books and saw The New Yorker and even noticed the name – for I knew not why… Now I know why! 🙂

  2. Yep! Junot is so awesome.

  3. I must get that issue of the New Yorker. Must must must get it. Like right now. I love Junot Diaz’s stories. I am so excited for his novel.

  4. J

    Hi Jade,

    I just stumbled into your blog when I was trying to find an online copy of Junot’s new story. Did you ever attend the Vona workshop? I might have met you there…

    Jade, I wonder if you have any recommendations for someone wanting to read some modern Korean novelists?

    Well, thanks for the blog, and I wish you well with your writing and your health,
    J.

  5. Lamberakis

    Diaz has been frustratingly slow to follow up on his first book. I’ll be looking forward to his book this fall. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s grown since “Drown.” I do hope he can pick up the pace a little. It’s disappointing to invest yourself as a reader in a writer only to have to wait 10 years for another book.

  6. nova: Hope you are enjoying the issue!

    J: Yep, I went to VONA–I do wonder if we ran into each other, too. And as for modern Korean novelists–I’d recommend Yi Munyol–unfortunately, Korean novelists are not oft-translated into English. (and the translations that are made are not so great).

    Lamberakis: I’m sure that there is no one more frustrated with the pace of his writing than Junot Diaz himself! (And Eugenides also has big delays between novels–e.g., the 10 year gap between Virgin Suicides and Middlesex). Junot has often said he’s been frustrated with his writing output pace in public interviews, but that he has learned to accept that he writes “slow.” But what he does produce is generally magnificent stuff, so like you, I wait with bated breath!

  7. Lamberakis

    Oh, I see. The little Oscar in “Wildwood” is Oscar Wao himself?

    Read the story today. Still mulling it over. Do his characters sometimes remind you of Holden Caulfield? Or maybe it’s his rhythms… Not sure.

    I was raised in this area of New Jersey where msot of Junot’s stories are set. I am also originally from the Caribbean. English is my second language, too. Sometimes, when I read Junot’s work, I feel as if he’s ripping the stories right out of my life, down to the names of towns and streets. It’s eerie.

  8. It might very well be the same Oscar, though I have no idea, nor any inside information that would bring enlightenment on that question. I do remember Chang-Rae Lee publishing a short story called “Daisy” in the New Yorker, a few months before the release of his novel Aloft

    and that “story” was really a chapter out of the novel, and Daisy was a character in the novel. So you never know. But now I am truly on pins and needles for his novel!

    I can’t say his characters are like Holden–though in the sense that they are sort of lost and looking for meaning, yes they are. But to me, his writing and characters are so unique…they are people I have never met before, but then again, I was not raised in New Jersey nor am I Caribbean.

    Thanks for sharing, Lamberakis–it’s totally enlightening to see your perspective on Junot’s writing. There aren’t that many Dominican American writers, and I know he must be proud to represent.

  9. I’m the co-founder of a new literary magazine, Slice, and a big fan of Junot Diaz. Check out our website for more about our debut issue, which includes an exclusive interview with Junot about how he started his writing career. http://www.slicemagazine.org

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