Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz burst onto the literary scene with “Drown,” a collection of short stories voiced by Yunior, a tough-talking Latino struggling to make his way on the streets of New Jersey. Diaz has revived Yunior for his latest book, “This Is How You Lose Her.” Only this time, Yunior is juggling multiple women, and figuring out how to be faithful to his fiancee. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author joins us to talk about the book, and what it takes to be faithful.

Interview Highlights

On Why He's Fascinated with the Subject of Infidelity

"It's just a great way to sort of discuss a whole range of topics. It's a great way to discuss love. As I kid, I was growing up, you know, my father was in the United States, and my mother and the rest of us were in the Dominican Republic. Our story as young kids was what was holding this family together was my father and my mother's love. We were separated by an ocean, by nations, by language, and yet this family was held together by love — that this was our home. Of course, this was our childhood imagination, and later it didn't turn out to be that at all. But clearly love was something that was very important to us early on. It was the thing that was going to bring us all together.

And I think that for me, what's most interesting about love, where we see love more clearly, where we see what's at stake, where we see what it gives us, where we see the costs, is when love breaks down. When love goes wrong, And you know there's are all these reasons why love goes wrong, but what is more nightmarish than you taking out a knife and plunging a knife into your own love, which is basically what cheating is.

And so that's a part of me that's interested at the abstract level and then there's the fact that I grew up surrounded by boys, my father included, all the way on down, where infidelity was everyday behavior, and it was this kind of boy-omerta. We all saw it happening and no one said anything and I think as an artist you're always attracted to those places where people aren't speaking but where everything is happening."

On How He Was Taught to View Women

"I think that most of us are not aware how we have acquired a vision of women that doesn't really encounter or doesn't really think of them completely, entirely as human beings. I can't really speak for anyone else, but when I honestly think about the way I was taught to think about women, it was completely instrumental.

I grew up with this idea that women were either kind of a mom-like figure, someone who did stuff for you, or a figure of your sexual attention. And that doesn't leave much room in there for there to be more nuanced, more complicated and more human relationships. Nor does it leave room for one to imagine woman as something that is or as people that are utterly independent of our needs, wants — [something other] than instruments."

 

Guests:
Junot Diaz, author of books including "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, and professor of creative writing at MIT

  • I have to buy this book as I know a guy that reminds me TOO MUCH of Junior. Junior is such a complex character. 

  • olive

    What do men think (I know you can’t speak for all men) of women that don’t tolerate bad/cheating behavior by men?  Do they think “she was dispensable” or do they have respect for her and realize they made a mistake? Depends on the situation, I’m sure.

  • Naturalhistory19

    There is a 12 step group called Sex and Love Addicts Anonomous.  Such relationships involve “love addicts” and “avoidance addicts”.  Fantasy, intrigue and obsession are all explored.  This program has been very helpful for me in understanding and changing my own behavior.

  • Frank

    Just a tiny point, Dave: Years ago, I heard Roxanne Pulitzer on Ronn Owens show and she cleared up the pronunciation of her family name. It turns out that the “u” is short, as in pull, rather than long as in pule. There. I feel better!

  • Mellolelo

    the protagonist sounds like someone with classic attachment issue. he basically has problem staying with the same person and is afraid of losing his own freedom.(there are more issues but these are some of the main ones) they tend to have trust issues. read the book “attachment.” it’s really hard to get these guys/girls to change. if you cannot tolerate guys/girls like this it’s best to stay away from them as romantic interest. 

  • Linda

    Women make men.  My sister raised 2 very selfish “boys”.  Their father was not involved for most of their lives.  Women, sadly, are part of this story.

  • Anne

    I met the love of my life and was in a relationship with him for 3 years. I thought he was the “perfect” guy, unlike those you are describing. He never had his life together, but I always supported him no matter what. He ended up having a life crisis and leaving me for someone ten years younger, a teenager at that. He also came back and said he’d made a mistake but his words never matched his actions. How do you explain guys that are “perfect” for a time and then change? How can women recognize these men for who they are from the start?

  • Tashideleg

    I am an anglo female in the us. Some men do respect women that are self-confident, and I do not mean overly confident. But, many do not. They treat strong women very badly. And, I see women in all cultures play this game by acting needy in order to have a working relationship with these men –though clearly this doesn’t work well either. It is so difunctional. I can not stoop to acting that way.

  • dopereads

    Great interview, it’s funny how baffled the interviewer is by the idea that some men are impervious to the feelings of women as it relates to infidelity. Also, Junot is dope. He’s definitely airing out folks’ laundry.

    • dopereads

       OMG JUST GOT TO THE PART WHERE HE EXPLAINED HIS FATHER’S GIRLFRIEND!!!!! *mind is blown*

  • utera

    A white knight patronizing women is just another type of man who doesn’t treat women as “human beings”.

    He even breaks out the old canard of the supposed double standard. Why is kristen stewart held to a different standard than the director(not that its true from what i’ve seen), men when they try to get laid have to play their own version of the american idol contest, whereas women can generally get by with just a yes, that will do. These are just simple facts that someone who has drank the koolaid just can’t see apparently. In his world I guess if a man and woman of equal attractiveness go on a contest to proposition as many strangers for sex as possible, he would claim that the woman only won because of male privilege. He’s not seeing reality by jumping into the dr phil camp of men who will say anything to make women nod, he’s just becoming another type of “user” of women.

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