Monday, October 15, 2007

Interview with Junot Diaz

Carlos Rodríguez Martorell interviews Dominican author Junot Díaz.
Junot Díaz is savoring the raving success of his debut novel — briefly.

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" has made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list (a first for a Dominican author), Miramax Films bought the screen rights and a translation into Spanish is already in the works.

"This is just a temporary change after 11 years in silence and solitude," Díaz deadpans, referring to the time it took for the book to see the light after his acclaimed "Drown."

"All this stuff is really nice but nothing is gonna make me happy until I can figure out a way to write more easily than I write now."

Díaz is not very hopeful about the movie. "Hollywood is Hollywood," he says. "It would be wonderful if it was brilliant, and it would be wonderful if it was made. But that's not usually what happens."

The novel revolves about Oscar, an obese comics fan growing up in Paterson, N.J., and his dysfunctional Dominican family, going back to the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship.

The book is being translated by Cuban author Achy Obejas.

In the novel, Díaz takes on so many genres that it makes it almost impossible to imagine what the movie would look like. Comedy? Epic? Sci-fi?

"Structurally, the perfect director would be the director who made ‘Babel' and ‘Amores Perros' [Alejandro González Iñárritu], because he knows how to juggle different story lines," he said. "I also really love that director who did ‘Secuestro Express' [Jonathan Jakubowicz]."

As for the cast, he can't think of any actor to play Oscar, but ventures two options for his fierce "ghetto-punk" sister, Lola.

"Minimum, we have two Dominican actresses who are tall and beautiful and [a bit] morenita, and that's Dania Ramírez and, of course, Zoë Saldaña."

He has another sure pick: "A friend of mine wrote that the best Trujillo would be Oscar de la Renta, and I think she's right. I think it would be genius."

Díaz says he's working on a novel about a woman raised an orphan who goes back to her native city, which has been destroyed in a terrorist attack.

"Oscar didn't sound funny either when I first described him," he said. "My problem as a writer is that I always take the strangest route to my destination."
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