Junot Diaz speaks

In a San Francisco Chronicle interview, the formidable and phenomenally talented Junot Diaz (Drown) dresses down a racist in the street, denounces the Bush administration’s immigration policies, and remembers growing up near a landfill, with “the stink of burning garbage, the roar of garbage trucks going back and forth and ‘the crying of tens of thousands of seagulls.'” When Edward Guthmann asks how that long-promised novel is coming:

Diaz sighs at the thought of his uncooperative work rhythms. “Who doesn’t want to be constantly working?” he asks. “I drove myself nuts for a couple years, gave myself a lot of hassle.” At the beginning of writing his novel, “I was a lot more deranged about it ’cause I didn’t have the sense that I was ever going to find my way through it. Then I finally began to embrace my inner slowpoke.

“For me the thing that drives me up the wall is the sense that there’s not that many Dominican American writers. It’s like a f — knife in me, that there’s not that many of us currently and there’s a tremendous need. And if I was writing faster, I would be able to give more…. I definitely feel that; that’s an enormous sense of pressure.”

Through next Saturday, Diaz’s “The Sun, The Moon, The Stars” is being performed alongside the work of Denis Johnson, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida at San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. All performances but Friday’s are sold out.


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