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Writer Junot Diaz visits campus

Through all of life’s hardships, the love of one’s art form is what keeps an artist at his or her work, according to writer Junot Díaz, who came to Emerson September 20 as part of the College’s Latin American/Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Díaz is the Dominican-American Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Diaz and students

Junot Diaz (center) posed for a photo with students Christel Hyacinthe (left) and Juan Castillo-Then during a visit to Emerson.

Díaz delivered a guest lecture, read two of his short stories, held a Q & A with students, and then did a book signing while he was on campus. More than 100 students attended the event.

In his lecture, Díaz spoke of his New Jersey and Dominican roots and gave advice to aspiring writers and other kinds of artists. He told students that they didn’t necessarily need to be writing every day in order to be good writers, but encouraged them to read widely, travel, and see the world outside to inform and inspire their writing.

Díaz also discussed what drew him to a career in the arts. American society tells you to accumulate things, create hierarchies, and compete, Díaz said, but “art is the one place where none of these things matter. There is absolutely no way you can say who is the best painter in the world.” The key for artists, he said, is to “put more beauty into the world than you’re taking out.”

The event was co-sponsored by Amigos, the student group that encourages awareness of Latin American/Hispanic cultures at Emerson, and the Writing, Literature and Publishing Department. Amigos is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

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