On Friday 30 May 2008 the Villa Aurelia showcased works by two writers at the AAR, Sarah Manguso and Junot Díaz.
Manguso read excerpts from her latest published work, the 2008 memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The book is an unblinking meditation on a life-threatening disease that stole upon the author in her early twenties, taking nine full years to run its course.
This fall Manguso will return to teaching literature and writing at the Pratt Institute in New York, where she will continue work on The Guardians, the novel she began this year at the AAR as the winner of the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust/American Academy of Arts and Letters.
For more on Sarah Manguso, see http://www.sarahmanguso.com/
Junot Díaz teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is also the fiction editor for the Boston Review. Díaz was at the AAR this year thanks to the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman.
Díaz unexpectedly found himself double-booked for the Villa Aurelia event. But playwright John Guare himself stepped in to read—or perhaps more accurately, perform—the opening pages of Díaz’s second book and debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead, 2007).
“It was believed, even in educated circles,” writes Díaz, “that anyone who plotted against [Dominican dictator Rafael] Trujillo, would incur a fukú most powerful, down to the seventh generation beyond.” As for what’s fukú—”doom” is too mild a translation—you have to experience the book, which won Díaz the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008.
For a videorecorded Junot Díaz reading and Q&A:
The Kirby Family Foundation generously provided support for the event.