Junot Diaz, one of the Latino community’s great literary minds, has been accused of sexual improprieties and being an outright bully by several female authors.
The 49-year-old Dominican author and MacAuthur Genius winner, was called out Friday for “forcibly kissing” Zinzi Clemmons in 2012 when she was a 26-year-old graduate student and writer. The shocking revelation opened the flood gate as it has done in many #MeToo cases, to other accusations. The accusations range from uncalled for sexual advances to verbal abuse.
Diaz, the once revered Latino guy who understands women thanks to his immigrant sensitivities, apparently is no more. Many of the accusers allege his behavior was an open secret in the literary world. A world that protected a rare find: published, talented, award-winning Latino writer. His 2008 “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” had it all: magic realism, immigrant dreams, pervasive footnotes, Spanglish, and eventually a Pulitzer Prize for its author.
Diaz was called out by Clemmons in a very public forum last Friday, as Diaz sat on a writer’s panel at the Syndey Writer’s Festival. She called out Diaz’ alleged sexually aggressive behavior toward her and asked him why he did it, during a Q&A session. Then she took to Twitter, where many others chimed in their support and their own Diaz “Is a bully” story.
Accusations surfaced from several Latina writers including Carmen Maria Machado and Alisa Valdez, who Diaz allegedly tried to bed her so they would become “two bright rising Latino writers.” Whereas Machado accuses Diaz of becoming a basic asshole, bully whenever his talents were questioned:
“What really struck me was how quickly his veneer of progressivism and geniality fell away; how easily he slid into bullying and misogyny when the endless waves of praise and adoration ceased for a second.”
Diaz has been riding the praise wagon for his recent New Yorker article, published several weeks ago, where he disclosed being raped at 8-years-old. A rape that led to intimacy issues with women and an inability to form healthy relationship. Many are now calling that article a “preemptive strike” and the timing very suspect.
Yesterday Diaz responded while fleeing the Syndey Writer’s Festival he was headlining. He issued the following statement to the New York Times:
“I take responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue. I am listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”
Adios Junot Diaz – it’s as if we never really knew you.
HSN Staff Writers
HSN staff writers are a group of enthusiastic and talented creative-types that generate great story lines and write about current events with a distinctively Latino voice always respecting the audience it writes for.
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