Prize-winning author Junot Diaz accused of sexual misconduct

Mae Love
May 7, 2018

At least three female writers have accused Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz of being misogynistic, with one woman saying he physically assaulted her.

Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose, accused Diaz of cornering and forcibly kissing her after she invited him speak at a workshop on issues of representation in literature.

Clemmons, who teaches writing at Occidental College in Los Angeles, went on to claim on Twitter that Díaz had forcibly kissed her.

Sydney Writers' Festival announced Diaz's withdrawal from the dayslong event, which ends Sunday.

In response to these allegations, Diaz, in a statement to the New York Times through his literary agent Nicole Aragi, said: "I take responsibility for my past".

Diaz, who penned The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her, has been widely regarded for his compelling storytelling about the Dominican-American experience.

Writer Monica Byrne tweeted that she was 32 when she sat next to Diaz at a dinner and that he "shouted" in her face when she disagreed with him during conversation.

Another writer, Bina Shah, asked Clemmons whether she thinks Diaz was "trying to pre-empt this from coming out" with his recent essay in The New Yorker about how his past as a victim of sexual abuse left him traumatized and has impacted his relationships with women. I am listening to and learning from women's stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. Meanwhile, on 4 May, writer/producer Alyssa Valdes published a blog post titled 'I Tried to Warn You about Junot Diaz', where she talks about how she publicly discussed Diaz's virulent misogyny ten years ago, and was punished for it severely.

"As for so many in positions of power, the moment to reckon with the consequences of past behaviour has arrived", the organization said in a statement.

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Author Carmen Maria Machado, who is now at the Sydney Writers' Festival with Diaz, shared over Twitter how she was treated when she attended a Q&A with the famed writer.

"Sydney Writers' Festival is a platform for the sharing of powerful stories: urgent, necessary and sometimes hard".

In April, Diaz wrote as essay in the New Yorker revealing he was raped as a child by a man he knew.

Novelist Zinzi Clemmons was the first to tweet accusations about Diaz on Friday.

Another SWF participant, Carmen Maria Machado, shared her experiences on Twitter about Diaz's alleged aggressive behaviour shortly after. Women of color-owned pop-up bookstore Duende District has taken Diaz' work off of their shelves.

Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. Media relations staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Diaz teaches writing, also did not immediately respond to emails asking for comment Saturday. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment, but a university official told The Post that MIT had not known of the allegations against Diaz.

"In the intervening years, I've heard easily a dozen stories about fucked-up sexual misconduct on his part and felt weirdly lucky that all ("all") I got was a blast of misogynist rage and public humiliation", she wrote, before slamming the writer's "horrific" treatment of women.

Other male authors faced misconduct allegations over the past months.

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