Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MacArthur Awards and the Immigrant Experience

Last week a couple of our favorite authors, Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and Dinaw Mengestu (The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears), won prestigious MacArthur fellowships. As it happens, we are reading Hector Tobar's The Barbarian Nurseries, an immigrant odyssey through contemporary Los Angeles this month and in that context I found it very interesting to hear Diaz and Mengestu discuss the influence of immigrant communities (Dominican and Ethiopian respectively) on their work in these MacArthur introductory videos:

The Diaz video can be found here. As I mentioned in another post, Diaz has a new book out, (This Is How You Lose Her) already nominated for a National Book Award and it seems Mengestu's third novel will be out soon. Interestingly, Carolyn Kellogg and Hector Tobar chat about the significance of the MacArthur Fellowships for the Los Angeles Times in the video below. In addition to praising the work of Diaz and Mengestu (with additional nods to Rights Readers favorites Edwidge Danticat and Toni Morrison), Tobar talks about the life of the writer and the impact of such awards.

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