This had to be written because last month the New York Observer ran a piece on why Junot Díaz doesn’t deserve all the praise and awards that included things like:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao didn’t captivate me, but that’s because I’m not inclined to care that much about tubby science fiction geeks with girl issues, even when limned in the admirably deft and much-praised brushstrokes of Mr. Díaz’s affecting, hip Spanglish prose.
Is it the wars, the terrorism, the recession, driving the longing for a regenerated machismo that Mr. Díaz’s multi-culti cred makes acceptable again?
As if to say that he’s successful because he’s Latino. Because that is so cool these days.
The piece goes on to list white writers who deserved the Genius grant more than Díaz (won’t someone think of the white writers!), group Díaz with white men he has little in common with (in the name of feminism), and completely misunderstand Díaz’s writing.
Literary awards jurors are irresistibly drawn to this Latino Updike, if you will, younger, hipper, bilingual, less prolific* certainly, but still plowing the same field as his predecessors, along with the same sorts of all-too-accommodating women.
Oh, and there’s a Hemingway quote lol.
*Don’t even get me started on the lack of credit given to Diaz because his writing isn’t white enough. Thea Lim addresses this in the piece I’ve linked to.