Junot Diaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, spoke at Occidental College on September 22. He read passages from his Pulitzer Prize winning novel and from his latest novel This Is How You Lose Her. After reading passages, he took questions from the audience. Many of the questions surrounded writing, race and culture, and his answers were wise and thoroughly thought provoking. Here are five inspiring quotes from Junot Diaz’s talk at Occidental College:
“The reader writes the final chapter.”
An audience member asked Diaz how he felt that some people interpret his novels as misogynistic. He responded with, “The reader writes the final chapter.” Every book can be interpreted in many ways. While one person may see satire in a book, another person may see misogyny in a book. Every reader makes a book their own, which means…
“There are multiple possibilities for every book.”
Not every reader can get the same lesson or messages from the same book. Every reader cannot contextualize in the same way, which is why every book does not have the same message for every person.
“The only advice for a writer is to read.”
This piece of advice came after Diaz was asked to give advice to writers. Diaz first mentioned that the internet is filled with writer’s advice, stating that the amount of writer’s advice online is only surpassed by images of cats. That being said, this piece of writer’s advice is particularly great. How much can a writer learn without appreciating and studying the craft through reading?
“Capitals have colonized nerdness.”
This answer came after a man asked if Diaz believed nerd culture had changed from when he was a kid to now. He answered with “no.” Instead of nerd culture growing with the times, he sees capitals and corporations taking over nerd culture for profit. In other words, Diaz says, “Capitals are trying to extract money from your imagination.” Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe for example. Has the MCU done anything revolutionary in terms of characters and plot? Not exactly. However, they have employed major stars and awesome CGI to ensure a large percentage pays to see their movies.
“Art most consistently puts us in touch with our best self.”
Writing can open the soul of a writer. Through writing and creating art, people can discover pieces of themselves. Those pieces can be the best part of oneself.
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