LEWISTON – Junot Díaz, whose novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, will give a lecture Friday, March 20, at Bates College.

“Oscar Wao,” Díaz’s first novel, also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for best novel of 2007. The book tells the story of Oscar Wao (meant to be a Spanish pronunciation of Oscar Wilde), an overweight Dominican science fiction geek, through the eyes of his roommate Yunior and his sister Lola.

The novel twists and turns through decades of history, chronicling both the political state of the Dominican Republic and the diaspora of its people into the United States. It examines the repercussions of a curse on Oscar’s family for thinking negative thoughts about Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic as a dictator from 1930 until his assassination in 1961.

“Oscar Wao” received glowing reviews and appeared on more than 35 best-of-the-year book lists. Time Magazine called it “astoundingly great” and The New York Times described it as “funny, street-smart and keenly observed … it unfolds from a comic portrait of a second-generation Dominican geek into a harrowing meditation on public and private history and the burdens of familial history.”

Wao’s family bears a striking similarity to Díaz’s own, the author has said – experiencing the immigrant struggles of assimilating into a new culture while clinging to an older one.

Díaz, who spent 11 years writing Wao’s tale, is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT, where he has worked since 2003, and is an associate professor in the program in writing and humanistic studies. He is the author of “Drown,” 1997, an acclaimed collection of short stories focusing on the young protagonist’s youth in the Dominican Republic and his struggles at adapting to life in New Jersey.

The lecture will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Benjamin Mays Center, 95 Russell St. For more information, call 786-8376.

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