Junot Díaz Talks Dominican Government, Obama Immigration Policy, and Star Wars

Lead Photo: Arthur Pollock
Arthur Pollock
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Junot Díaz is no stranger to taking heat for criticizing the Dominican Republic and its recent move to strip Haitian immigrants and descendants of their citizenship. In December 2013, eight Dominican intellectuals spoke out against him, saying he didn’t have enough context to speak on the subject, and attacking his writing abilities. Then, in October 2015, Junot found himself once again at odds with a prominent Dominican figure. Eduardo Selman, the DR’s consul in New York, called the writer “antidominicano” and stripped him of his 2009 Order of Merit Award.

In a new interview with the New Yorker Radio Hour, Junot expanded on why Selman’s petty actions didn’t phase him.

“I wouldn’t describe a writer as a favorite son of any country,” he told David Remnick. “…But we’re talking of a political elite that I have tried everything possible to stay as far away from. And I’m not surprised that suddenly these very folks who gave me a medal, which I never claimed, suddenly discovered that they hadn’t read anything I’ve written. Because certainly if they’ve read anything I’ve written, I would be the last person [these politicians] would be trying to give an award to.”

Diaz used the interview as another opportunity to speak out against the government, saying that the change to the constitution is meant to “isolate, marginalize, and menace” Haitians.

Junot also shared his conflicted feelings about Obama’s presidency, and was highly critical of the Administration’s immigration policies, which he dubbed a massive disappointment to anyone with ties to the Latino community.

Though the 14-minute clip mostly focuses on immigration, Junot also geeked out when the topic of Star Wars came up. But Remnick made sure the interview came back around to Junot when he asked the Dominican author if he ever plans to revisit his 2012 sci-fi story, Monstro.

“I just keep having this idea of what would happen if the world ended in a country where the world has ended multiple times, where that’s something, in fact, that we’re quite used to,” he said. “The United States the world ending would be this singular tragedy. In the Dominican Republic, it’s just a return to the normal.”

Check out the full interview below to hear Junot talk about his first experience with racism and how living in New Jersey gave him a piece of home.