Hilton Als is an essayist and theater critic for the New Yorker. His latest book, White Girls, is a collection of essays offering commentary on figures such as Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor. Als has written for the Nation, the Believer, and the New York Review of Books and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College. He lives in New York City.
Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is the author of the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and the short-story collections Drownand This is How You Lose Her. Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the cofounder of Voices of Our Nation Workshop, a multi-genre program dedicated to writers of color.
To open Shorts: Stories, Essays & Other Briefs, Junot Díaz and Hilton Als came together on the subject of “Baldwin’s Children, or, Our Bodies Long for (a) Home: Belonging, Exile, and Love in African Diaspora Letters.”
This recording captures their appreciation for the influence of James Baldwin’s stories and essays on the short form. Examining his impact on their work as writers of color, the Dominican-born Díaz connects to Baldwin as “someone who had to leave his homeland to become himself,” and Als recalls finding his own experience in white-dominated culture reflected in Baldwin’s voice. In reading Baldwin, both writers found a home, defined by Díaz as a place “to rest your head and your heart.”
From Key West Literary Seminar 2016: “SHORTS” Stories, Essays & Other Briefs.
One thought on “Hilton Als & Junot Díaz in Conversation”
Christi Cartwright says:
This was illuminating. I love the conversation surrounding what it means to be an immigrant and how that lifestyle and it’s crafting plugs into the lives of so many artists.