Junot Diaz in Brooklyn

A brief wondrous reading

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn twenty-somethings take note: acclaimed author Junot Diaz says this isn’t the place to live if you want to be an artist.

“For a poor, freak artist, New York is almost impossible now,” said Diaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” “The kind of marginal artists that made New York a place that people wanted to run to is vanishing rapidly.”

Diaz, whose new collection of short stories “This Is How You Lose Her” will hit shelves this fall, knows a little bit about being a struggling artist in Brooklyn — he lived in Boerum Hill in the early 1990s before leaving the borough for Manhattan.

He’s since gone on to a professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but Diaz is back in town for an extended stay and he’ll be reading from the new collection at CUNY’s City Tech as part of the school’s Literary Arts Festival on April 26.

Even though so many artists call Brooklyn home today, living in the borough can be as lonely as the life of Diaz’s most famous character, Oscar Wao.

“We’re not in the business of having a lot of friends with our work,” Diaz said. “If you’re a serious artist, you’re not going to meet the type of people you’re going to vibe with and even if you’ve got a peculiar vision, New York is going to be a lonely place.”

The folks at CUNY’s City Tech campus said Diaz — whose stories are primarily set in the Dominican community — was a natural choice for the reading.

“City Tech is one of the most diverse campuses on the East Coast and we want someone who is representative of our student body,” said Caroline Hellman, who organized the festival.

Junot Diaz at City Tech [285 Jay St. between Tillary Street and Tech Place in Downtown, (718) 260-4975,] April 26, 7 pm. For info, email

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 11:55 am, March 5, 2018
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