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Diaz excites audience at Cultural Crossings Conference

Speaks about his views on writing, reading, and other authors

October 24, 2013

By Aziza Doleh

Students and fans piled in for the guest of honor Junot Diaz, for the Cultural Crossings Conference on Friday Oct. 11. (Watch Video Clip).

Diaz spoke to a full auditorium at Cleveland State University to be a part of the Cultural Crossings Conference.

Reading a small passage from his book "This Is How You Lose Her", Diaz then had an interactive Q&A with the audience. Before he did that he warmed up the crowd by asking who was in the audience, whether you were students, staff, fans, etc.

“I want to thank the sister who shouted me out from her car… yeah she pulled up and was like I’m going to see you later, I’m profoundly a coward so I was thinking like who the f****,” said Junot Diaz, author and guest speaker.

Diaz was quite the character, not holding back at what he thought about other authors or how he felt about being a writer. He was very comical and charismatic every time he answered a fan's question. Diaz is the brother that you would find sitting on the stoop in Jersey.

The entire audience seemed very engaged when he read from his book and when he gave his opinion, which came off very refreshing.

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, he is the author of the critically acclaimed "Drown," "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and "This Is How You Lose Her," a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and a professor at MIT.

After reading from his book, Diaz interacted graciously and answered honestly any questions the audience asked him.

“I’m in the writing business because I love books,” said Diaz
What stood out the most was Diaz spoke openly about how he was more of a reader than he was a writer. He also expressed how he didn’t like that his colleagues weren’t into reading and that they were more into selling their books than actually enjoying other people’s work.

Diaz had the audience laughing and entertained with his little jokes about being from Santo Domingo and moving to New Jersey.

“The joke in my family is simply that I can’t be super smart in Spanish, so I’m way comfortable in Spanish… I’m functionally bilingual,” said Diaz.

The Q&A went on for about an hour and went very well. Diaz stayed after

“I heard him back in 2008 at a public library and he’s very inspiring and he makes you want to go out and write," said Kurt Hinkle, a fan of Diaz.

Antonio Medina-Rivera, professor at Cleveland State, put this conference together to express importance of cultural affairs. He did not get back to me on why he chose Diaz to speak and about the conference that took place.