LAWRENCE — Junot Díaz, author of the critically acclaimed novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and short story collection "This Is How You Lose Her," will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in the Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. His lecture, "An Evening with Junot Díaz: Literature, Diaspora and Immigration," is an installment of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2013-2014 Humanities Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.
The Hall Center also will host a more informal public question-and-answer session the following day. "A Conversation with Junot Díaz" will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Hall Center Conference Hall. The event also is free and open to the public.
Díaz emigrated from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey as a child, and this experience serves as the thematic focus of most of his work. Critics describe his work as "electrifying," "distinct" and "vulgar, brave and poetic.” He is currently working on a novel of science fiction titled "Monstro."
A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" earned many awards, including the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997 1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII and in The O Henry Prize Stories 2009.
He has received a Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship, a Lila Acheson Wallace Readers Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award, the 2003 US/Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Stephen Greenblatt, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Mary Oliver. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.