The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and “Drown” came to UNC for Hispanic Heritage Month, the fifth annual celebration of Latino culture hosted by the Carolina Hispanic Association and the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative.
“Like many of us, I’m still kind of waiting for this country to start celebrating Latinos,” Diaz said. “It’s been a couple hundred years.”
Diaz, who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, strode on stage wearing a sweatshirt and sneakers, holding an Alpine Bagel coffee cup, lacking a set of notes or one of his books.
He opened the talk with a handful of questions for the audience.
“It’s a Saturday night. I don’t know what you guys are doing here,” Diaz said, breaking into the frank and honest tone that characterized his entire talk. “We can talk about whatever you want to talk about.”
And that’s exactly what he did, avoiding the typical format of college lectures.
He challenged the audience to think about race and diversity, feminism and intersectionality, education and vocation.