Junot Díaz on writing while teaching, and more

Let us all pause and offer a moment of silence to Lauren, who parted with the new issue of Dirtypop so that I could bring you these excerpts from a fascinating 5-page interview with Junot Díaz.

On the logistics of balancing writing with teaching (at MIT), he tells interviewer Dulce Mateo:

I can barely write while I’m teaching but I can barely eat from just my writing so that’s the rub.

Luckily for me, I’m already a slow writer so it’s not like anybody notices the one-line-a-month pace. As for the process, I’m so terrified of writing that at least once every couple of months my writing anxiety triggers a spine-snapping muscle spasm (I shit you not) and it’s in the aftermath of that horrible agony that I often get a lot of my best work done.

“[W]hat’s it like,” Mateo asks, “teaching … in a conservative, mostly white, wealthy area?”

“Shit,” says Díaz:

it’s sort of like living in a conservative, mostly white, wealthy country. I’ve already got lots of experience with one, so it was easy to survive in the other. But honestly, the Boston area can be like a white supremacist homeland; fucking scary a lot of the time… Fortunately for me, Mass. has a sizeable Dominican population…

Still, he praises the MIT students — “some of the most amazing nerds on the planet,” who “tell you you’re moving too slow in the class,” and make “all kinds of robots that breakdance and shit.”

He also riffs on capitalism, childhood reading, books he’d take to a desert island, his answer to Proust’s madeleine, and much more.

If you’re a fan, get your hands on a copy.


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