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MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

Junot Díaz inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Pulitzer prize-winning writer is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT

 

"It is a tremendous honor and for this Dominican immigrant an especially gratifying one, when you consider the hostile political climate we immigrants are confronting right now. I started out in this country not knowing English at all and living within sight of a landfill; I hope my election will serve to inspire my communities, to remind them of our extraordinary excellence and our infinite potential."

— Junot Díaz, Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing



28 February 2017
 

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the names of 14 new inductees, including Junot Díaz, a Pulitizer prize-winning author, and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.

The new members, including Professor Díaz, and three honorary foreign members — writers Zadie Smith and Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, and composer Kaija Saariao — will be honored at a ceremony in New York in mid-May. Author and fellow member, Joyce Carol Oates will speak, and the organization’s secretary Calvin Trillin, and president, Yehudi Wyner, will induct the members.  

Of his most recent honor, Díaz writes, "When I learned about my election to the Academy at first I had trouble understanding what the letter was saying, I was so surprised. It is a tremendous honor and for this Dominican immigrant an especially gratifying one, when you consider the hostile political climate we immigrants are confronting right now. I started out in this country not knowing English at all and living within sight of a landfill; I hope my election will serve to inspire my communities, to remind them of our extraordinary excellence and our infinite potential."

Arts and Letters

In addition to awards and honors, the Academy’s work includes “exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country.” According to its website, the Academy’s current membership includes visual artists and architects; playwrights, poets, and writers of fiction and non-fiction; and composers from several genres of music. Active members nominate and elect new members, and membership is for life. Membership remains at 250, and new members are inducted as openings become vacant.


About Junot Díaz

After winning numerous awards for his debut story collection, Drown, Díaz followed up with a novel 11 years in the making, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for literature. More recently, Díaz’s short-story collection This Is How You Lose Her, was named finalist for the National Book Award in 2012, the same year that Díaz also won a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2016, Díaz received the Levitan Teaching Award, whose recipients are among the finest teachers at the Institute. These great educators, who are nominated by students themselves, represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 

 

Suggested links

Junot Díaz website

Comparative Media Studies / Writing

Announcement | American Academy of Arts and Letters

AP News Story

MIT Archive Story: Diaz wins MacArthur Fellowship
 

 


Story prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial team: Sarah Goodman, Emily Hiestand