Doesn’t it seem like the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven should’ve joined together by now to proclaim that Junot Díaz’s first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, will be out this September?
But no. It is winter, and so we trudge along with Oprah scandals, Dawkins’ rantings, and editor doocings. Oh, and of course, we are only! just! learning! the fascinating details of Jenna Bush’s debut literary effort. Will someone wake me when March is over?
If you haven’t read Junot Díaz’s Drown, please do so now.
Seriously: stop clicking through to book news or random clips of Paris Hilton’s latest chocha flashing or whatever, and just listen to this. (Then acquire copy of book, then set aside evening to get lost in same.) You can also read a very brief, very old piece of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” a short story published in The New Yorker in December 2000.
Those already acquainted with the brilliance of Díaz can hear him talking about his work on a recent Cornell interview. Here’s a choice excerpt:
[Your] narrators have at least superficial similarities to you personally — that is, race, age, gender, New Jersey — that make your readers often wonder if you are Yunior, if Yunior is you. What is your relationship to your narrator? And does your readers’ preoccupation with this bother you?
. . . . I never think of Yunior — sort of my alter ego in some ways — as metonymic for myself. You know, after you’ve worked with a character for a long time, they kind of get a certain amount of precedent, and they begin to exist in a way in your head that is often unrelated to the way that you think about yourself and how you pulled that character out of yourself. I think what’s interesting about a character like Yunior — and thinking about the first-person voice — is that, again, I feel in Yunior a lot of the traits which I find very difficult to reconcile in myself [are] easier for me to reconcile in him.
(Via Joshua Ferris at The Elegant Variation. Díaz image taken from this article; and here he is with one of his heroes, Ursula K. LeGuin.)