Stephen Colbert had author Junot Diaz on his show Monday night to talk about immigration. He introduced Diaz by saying, “My guest tonight won a Nobel Prize and a MacArthur Genius grant.”
Sure, Diaz has been racking up awards like nobody’s business. He got his MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2012. Last week he won the British Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story prize -- worth more than $45,000 for a single short story -- with “Miss Lora,” one of the stories in his latest collection, “This Is How You Lose Her."
But he doesn’t have a Nobel Prize. At least, not yet.
Yes, he has a Pulitzer -- that came back in 2008 for his first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” His website, which can’t keep up with his accolades, notes he has also won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a PEN/O. Henry Award.
The Nobel was a slip of the tongue -- a slip that’s been picked up by major outlets.
“Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author Junot Díaz visited The Colbert Report to discuss immigration reform,” writes Entertainment Weekly.
“Junot Diaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize and MacArthur grant for his writing, currently serves on the board of advisors at Freedom University in Georgia,” echoes Salon, calling it a “must-see morning clip.”
For the record, Junot Diaz has not won the Nobel Prize. Nope.
He is one of the scholars behind Freedom University, a college that was formed in response to Georgia legislation banning undocumented immigrants from studying at the state’s top universities. That’s what he was on Colbert to discuss.
“Freedom University is a Georgia college dedicated to educating undocumented immigrants. Why?” asks Colbert.
“Every single immigrant we have, documented or undocumented, is a future American,” Diaz explains to applause. Colbert, of course, disagrees. See the complete clip -- with the talk-show host and the not-yet Nobel laureate -- below.