Junot Diaz has postponed his L.A. reading for a very, very good reason

Junot Diaz
Junot Diaz will read in Los Angeles ... eventually.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

If you were hoping to see Junot Díaz next week, sorry, he’s going to be busy with the Obamas.

Díaz, currently the Katie Jocobson writer in residence at Cal Arts, had been scheduled to speak at REDCAT on Jan. 13. REDCAT announced Wednesday that the event will be postponed until Feb. 17 after “Mr. Díaz received an unexpected invitation from the White House to attend a private event during the last week of the current administration.”

Díaz is the author of the short story collections “This Is How You Lose Her” and “Drown” and the bestselling  Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” The immigrant experience and issues of identity are often at the heart of his work. 

He has been awarded a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship and in 2016 received the Literature Award of the Hispanic Heritage Awards, which were established by the White House in 1987 “to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month in America.” He was recently one of 16 writers to respond to “Trump’s America” in the New Yorker magazine.


Díaz is not the first writer to be honored by a visit to Obama’s White House.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has hosted a number of White House events during the Obama administration, including an evening of poetry with Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith and Billy Collins, appearances by Mayda del Valle, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon, and a poetry jam that featured an early performance of material from “Hamilton” from none other than Lin-Manual Miranda.

Obama, who has written two books of his own and is on the brink of penning another, has been a distinctly literary president, routinely posting his summer reading lists on the White House’s website.


Obama began his now-famous interview of 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction-winner  Marilynne Robinson by saying that “one of the things that I don’t get a chance to do as often as I’d like is just have a conversation with somebody who I enjoy and I’m interested in.”


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