Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Junot Diaz on the Apocalypse

Junot Diaz, who visits tomorrow, talks to about his interest in apocalyptic sci-fi.

"If you could be any other writer, who would you be?" In a fantastic subversion of expectations, Diaz said that he would be Octavia Butler, the African-American science fiction author of such classics as Parable of the Sower and Kindred. It was a beautiful moment in the history of literature.

How does the idea of apocalypse play into your current project and your work in general?
As far as the apocalypse, I grew up in the most apocalyptic area in the world. We can’t think of a place that has endured more apocalypses than the Dominican Republic and the island of Hispaniola, or the island of Haiti has endured everything expect for a nuclear catastrophe. I think these shadows, these historical echoes reached me and they both intrigued and troubled me. And I came up in New Jersey, within slight distance of New York City during the time of the possibility of total nuclear annihilation. I was one of those kids that grew up in a time where you would see, on the news, they’d suddenly flash a map of New York City and they would show a big black ring, of every area, every town, every person within that range would be utterly obliterated, and of course, we were deep in the heart of that ring. The apocalyptic history of both the Dominican Republic and the United States has resonated with me and continues to shape a lot of the interests in my work.