Academia has made official what Latino fans have known for years: Junot Díaz is a genius. Díaz, a Dominican author whose published works include “Drown,” “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and recent short story collection “This is How You Lose Her” has just been named a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
The MacArthur Foundation award – otherwise known as the “genius grant” – is given annually to “individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.” Each of the 23 fellows selected as recipients this year will receive a $50,000 prize.
Díaz, whose novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, was named a Fellow for his use of “raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.” Diaz, 43, is currently a professor of writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Joining Díaz on the list of “geniuses” is Natalia Almada, a Mexico City-based documentarian whose work was recognized for its “complex and nuanced views of Mexican history, politics and culture.”