Born and in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York, Junot Díaz has always used the contrast between his island homeland and life in New Jersey as a fulcrum for his fiction. His brilliant short story collections (Drown and This Is How You Lose Her) and his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) are coming-of-age stories full of wild humour, pathos, intelligence, rage and piercing tenderness.

A voracious young reader, Díaz rarely saw characters in books who resembled him. His first foray into fiction for young readers, Islandborn, redresses this absence. It follows a young Dominican-American girl as she learns both joyful and heart-breaking stories from her homeland. Junot joins Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams to discuss the delightful, beautifully illustrated children’s book, reflecting on the themes of identity and belonging that have underpinned his celebrated adult fiction.


Junot Díaz (International)

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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; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and Islandborn, a picture-book for young readers. A graduate of Rutgers College, Junot is currently the Fiction Editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.

Michael Williams (Australian)

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Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. For 2015-2016 he hosted Blueprint for Living on RN, and he remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for publications including Australia's The Guardian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.