All Write Already!

A Completely Unpretentious Literary Podcast

Episode 26 – Junot Díaz, Plus The Chicago Humanities Festival

October 23, 2013 by karenshimmin

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9781594631771_large_This_Is_How_You_Lose_HerToday’s guest, Junot Díaz, was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in New Jersey and is the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and the critically-acclaimed Drown. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, and numerous Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship and PEN/O. Henry Award, among other accolades. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We called Junot for a conversation about playing Atari, the extreme sport of writing, and the importance of teaching scientists and engineers to write.

In Junot’s words:

Junot Diaz_(c) Nina Subin

“I would rather have a million well-educated readers than ten writers. I think that the problem is that the overemphasis in creative writing programs – the overemphasis in creating artists – has put us in a strange situation where we’re producing artists… as if this is a country where the average American reads 100 books a year. But what we’re not producing is readers. We’re not producing fluent publics that have an interesting range of literacies. That’s why I resist the idea that I’m teaching creative writing for writers. I’m not teaching creative writing for writers. I don’t teach at an MFA program. I teach creative writing because it’s a way of connecting people to a literary fluency that I think is essential.”

Plus, Willy and Karen recap the first two days of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Can a Yale professor tell us how to police Chicago more effectively? What happens when a Neuroscientist and a Humanist Walk into a Bar?

(photo © Nina Subin)

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