The line wrapped around the block, hundreds deep, two hours before author Junot Díaz's was set to speak on April 16 at St. Francis College. Dozens had to be turned away and 100 people were set to watch the event from an adjoining room.
But that wasn't good enough for the writer of, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which was named the best novel of the 21st century so far by BBC Culture. Díaz went into the overflow room and spent a half hour talking with the audience, before the formal event began.
He came to St. Francis College as the latest speaker in the Walt Whitman Writers Series. Díaz read from his collection of short stories, Drown, and answered questions from the editor of Buzzfeed Books, Isaac Fitzgerald as well as from members of the audience.
(Watch An Evening with Junot Díaz)
"Junot Díaz is among the most influential novelists alive," said St. Francis College English Professor Theo Gangi, who is also the Director of the College Writing Program.
Díaz is the twelth writer to visit St. Francis for the Walt Whitman Series which continues to bring top contemporary authors to Brooklyn Heights to share their work and writing experiences with students, faculty and the entire Brooklyn community. Previous authors include Charles Baxter, George Saunders, James Salter, Colum McCann, Ben Marcus, Dinaw Mengestu, Kate Christensen, Julie Orringer, Jonathan Lethem, Darcey Steinke, and Rick Moody.
The Walt Whitman Series is a continuation of St. Francis College's commitment to supporting Brooklyn's literary community. In addition to visits by these authors, the College also offers the biennial $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize and helps sponsor and host events for the Brooklyn Book Festival; giving students, faculty and the entire Brooklyn community a front row seat to some of the best and most diverse professional writers at work today.
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award.A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Isaac Fitzgerald is the editor at Buzzfeed Books and the co-founder of Pen & Ink.