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Novelist Junot Diaz was 2010 Common Reading Speaker

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A public reading based on new students' "common reading"

All new students at Hampshire College this fall shared a common summer reading: the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

They heard directly from author Diaz when he read at Hampshire on September 4, 2010. The event included a question-and-answer session with the author, followed by a book signing.

The Hampshire College faculty selects the common reading. It provides a shared intellectual experience and helps build community among new students.

During orientation, new students discussed the common reading in a small group, led by a professor who will become their academic advisor. These groups are continuing to meet as first-year tutorials.

Junot Diaz was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is his first novel. Considered a "literary triumph," it is simultaneously comic and heartbreaking, street-smart and learned.

Recipient of numerous awards in addition to the Pulitzer, it remained on New York Times and independent bookstore bestseller lists for two years, in hardback and in paperback. It has been sold in 33 languages.

The story of a contemporary immigrant family, told in the compelling voice of narrator Yunior, the novel touches on broad cultural themes including the intersection of public and private history.

New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote that The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is "so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West."

For more information about the reading, please contact the Hampshire dean of students office at 413.559.5412.


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