Cultura y conciencia

The Importance of Being Junot

Nelson Santana

Stamps from Santo Domingo to New York

By Rafael de la Cruz

September 15, 2010

Junot Diaz continues to stick it to the establishment while the sacred cows no longer give milk: on September 20th Junot will give a lecture in Bronx Community College in the city of New York

In the U.S., Junot Díaz's narrative leaves many readers dumbfounded, whether they are English or Spanish speakers. Moreover, in the subway it is not rare to find female and male readers alike submerged in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the book which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Esendom has been to several public speaking events of the acclaimed author and has witnessed the love and respect young people have for Junot.

It should not be neglected to point out that Junot, like the great Argentine writer Julio Cortazar decades ago, is like a sweet flower that attracts bees: A younger fan base hungry for new narrative forms and avant-garde experimentation. And as in the decade of the 60s, the younger generation rebelled against the sacred cows who intended to impose their dogma on the literary and cultural world.

In the Dominican Republic, many of the sacred cows that have lost ground to new generation of writers and artists refuse or resist to recognize Junot's talents. Clearly, this is due to the fact that Junot represents an alternative to the conservative and ageing intellectuals who receive largess of political power from time to time as many of these are linked to traditional parties responsible for the lack of impunity against the crimes of the Trujillo dictatorship and the Balaguerist regime from the 1970s. Actually, this is group of intellectuals composed of "whites" who view Junot as an affront since he is a person of color who has captivated the Dominican community abroad.

But Junot is also a loudmouth, a bocagrande, in the best sense of the word, who speaks out and denounces the abuses against Dominicans of Haitian descent alongside Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dandicat.

The loudmouth Junot is seen as a threat to the alleged "hispanic heritage” of Dominicans by writing in English and for his fierce defense of the rights of Dominico-Haitians and immigrants from the neighboring country. The Sacred Cows who no longer produce milk despise him for this and much more.

Finally, these dried cows in both Santo Domingo and the U.S. have a grudge against Junot because the literary talent that is Junot Diaz takes readership away from them. In short, they cannot accept – not even in their wildest dreams – that the young Dominican-American intellectual and writer deserves the recognition and a certain financial success that as a writer, he has rightfully earned.